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10 Reasons Leaders Stop Growing

10 Reasons Leaders Stop Growing

The best leaders I know keep growing. They never settle for mediocrity. They look for and tackle challenges that stretch them beyond their own comfort zone. Stagnation alarms them into action. On the other hand, many leaders stop growing at some point, perhaps for one or more of these reasons:

1. They have no accountability. Nobody has permission to say to them, “You really seem stuck where you are in life” or “Have you ever thought about working on this issue in your walk with God?” No accountability often equals no growth.

2. They’ve achieved their “dream.” They set their goals long ago, and they made it. The right church size. The right location. Popularity growing. People know their name. They don’t need to grow once they’ve reached the top of their mountain—even if their mountain no longer challenges them to trust God more.

3. They’re tired. Leadership has cost them their energy and their spirit. The needs of their people are greater than the hours of the day. When you barely get through the day without being exhausted, who has time to grow?

4. They’ve achieved the title “Dr.” I’m an educator—and I believe 100 percent in advanced level training—but the leader who stops growing when he or she gets this title probably doesn’t deserve it. Letters behind our name grant us no permission to rest spiritually or professionally.

5. They fear further education. Again, I believe in graduate and advanced level training. Some leaders, though, are afraid of the risks and challenges of returning to school after a number of years. Rather than risk failure, they instead choose stagnation.

6. They don’t know where to start. They want to grow, but they don’t know how. Where do I find a mentor? What conference is worth attending? How do I choose which advanced degree to study? How do I open myself to accountability? The questions are numerous enough that it’s just easier to ignore them while staying busy.

7. They’ve left their spiritual disciplines behind. They don’t even do what God demands from them every day—and when they make that faulty choice, they’re choosing not to grow. In fact, they’re choosing to get stuck in their walk with God.

8. They’re mad at God. They’ve given themselves to lead God’s people, and they’ve been blistered in the process. The scars are deep enough that trying to grow hurts. It means they have to deal with the reality of bitterness and unforgiveness to move forward.

9. They never delegate. That means they do it all, and then often complain about how hard they work and how much they sacrifice. When they build an institution around themselves, they become the king—and kings don’t see a need to grow.

10. They’re holding on to secret sin. Any sin we choose not to turn from is an idol, and unrepentant idolaters stop growing as spiritual leaders. Period.

What’s keeping you from growing? Contact me via this website if I might pray for you or help you think about further training.   

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.