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4 Idols That Kill Leadership Development

The fruit of a leader must be another leader as leaders are ultimately the ones responsible for the development of other leaders. From a Christian vantage point, the kingdom of God has multiplied as Christian leaders have developed and deployed others to make disciples and raise up new leaders.

Leaders have been given the holy responsibility of developing and equipping others. Just as in other areas of our lives, our idolatry, our longing for something other than God, keeps us from obeying Him with glad hearts. A leader’s idolatry will prevent a leader from the holy task of developing other leaders.

Tim Keller, David Powlison and others have thought more deeply and written more eloquently about the idolatry that plagues our hearts. They have identified four common idols beneath the surface, idols that drive sinful and destructive behavior:

  • Power: a longing for influence or recognition
  • Control: a longing to have everything go according to my plan
  • Comfort: a longing for pleasure
  • Approval :a longing to be accepted or desired

How do these idols prohibit leadership development? What does a leader with these idols likely think or say about the responsibility to develop others? Below are the four idols with accompanying thoughts or phrases leaders have muttered:


  • I just want to ensure this gets done the right way.
  • I don’t trust another to do it as I can do it.

If you have thought or said either of the above, your struggle with control is hampering your development of others. A leader with control issues is a leader who fails at a chief leadership task: developing others. A leader who struggles with handing significant responsibility to others fails to provide necessary experiences that aid in development.


  • The people need me to be the one who does this.
  • If someone else does this, people will flock to that person instead of me.

If you have thought or said either of the above, your longing for approval is hurting you and the people you lead. A leader who needs affection and approval from others is reluctant to develop and deploy other leaders because the leader fears the affection and approval could be divided.