5 Leadership Signs Your Movement Is Dying

One or two of these in isolated instances are likely manageable. A pattern of any one or any combination of these signs in a pastor or the leadership culture of a church likely indicates a stalled or dying movement.

1. Insulation from criticism and/or interpretation of any criticism as attacks or insubordination.

Of course, there is such a thing as malicious attacks, divisiveness, and nitpicking busybodies. But too many leaders treat all criticism as on par with those sins in an attempt to deflect or retaliate against any challenge to their sense of authority or rightness.

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In some cases, it gets really bad when affected leaders treat any question, no matter how innocently or sincerely asked, as an affront to their authority, or when leaders cultivate a system that prevents questions, criticisms, challenges even reaching their eyes or ears.

The minute leaders start insulating themselves from valid criticism is the minute they begin exalting themselves. And exaltation of anyone but Christ is death. Self-reflection, accountability, and openness to sharpening/correction are musts for healthy biblical leadership.

2. Paranoia about who is and who isn’t in line.

If a leader is constantly worried about who’s on their side and who’s not, who’s saying or thinking what about them behind their back, who can be trusted and who can’t, who are allies and who are obstacles, etc. etc., he is entering a world of insecurity that is hostile to the confidence of Christ’s righteousness.

And really, most times a leader frets about who may not be unquestionably submitting to his leadership, it is a sign he’s already lost credibility and trust. (Very closely related to this red flag is the tendency some pastors have to think of their people largely as statistics, consumers, assets, or liabilities, rather than as, you know, people.)

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Jared C. Wilson
Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, Director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of numerous books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, The Prodigal Church, The Imperfect Disciple, and Supernatural Power for Everyday People. A frequent preacher and speaker at churches and conferences, you can visit him online at jaredcwilson.com or follow him on Twitter.