The greatest leadership lesson I have ever learned is: Not every hill is worth dying on.
If I had believed and practiced this in my previous churches, and perhaps during the first few of my 26 years at Cross Church, my influence would be greater and the ministry would be more effective. I have seen ministers let their stubbornness and pride wreck their own lives and ministries. Usually, it is because of violating this great leadership lesson.
In case no one has said this to you, whether you are a rookie pastor or an icon minister, let me tell you right now: Not every hill is worth dying on!
It took me many years to learn this. Again, if I had learned it earlier in pastoral ministry, each church I served would have prospered more effectively. The fellowship would have been sweeter, the growth would have been greater, and the preservation of that growth would have been more successful.
It Was A Process.
How did I learn this lesson? It did not happen at a particular turning point, but through a process. Some things in leadership you can only learn through the growth of the entity you are assigned to lead. The evolving of the organization with growth in structures, personnel, dollars and expectations requires the leader to operate by the conviction that not every hill is worth dying on.
As I write these words, I think about the times that I could have carried more people with me along the church’s vision path if I had only been more patient and personal along the way. In the name of “urgency” or “reaching,” we can at times hurry matters in a church when hurrying is not an asset, but a liability. I wish someone had spoken these words to me earlier in life. Perhaps they did but my passion distorted my hearing.
It’s Not About Being Right.
Most Christians are more interested in being right than they are about being Christ-like. Many times pastors are no exception to this. The Christian life is not about being right — it is about being Christ-like. I heard this said years ago and I have never forgotten it: If Satan cannot get you to do the wrong thing, he will get you to do the right thing in the wrong way. When you think you are always right, you will die on needless hills. When you constantly have to prove you are right and don’t take the time to work toward making the best decision in the right time and in the right way, you lose something with your people.