10 Characteristics of Reactionary Leaders

10 Characteristics of Reactionary Leaders

Many pastors genuinely lead. They proactively cast vision, get others on board to accomplish that vision, and continue to push toward the goal of leading their church to be a Great Commission church. Many other pastors, though, are reactionary leaders—which means they aren’t really leading at all.

Check out these characteristics of reactive leaders, and see if any describe you.

  1. Much of their ministry is putting out firesThey’re so afraid of the possibility of a conflagration that they spend all their time fixing little issues. They put the fires out, but that’s all they do.
  2. They cannot tell you what their vision is for the church. Dreaming about a preferred future is tough to do when you’re always in response mode. It’s hard to see beyond today’s problems.
  3. They’re physically worn outThat’s because there’s always something to respond to. You never get caught up and relax when you live in reactionary mode.
  4. They’re emotionally wrung out. When all you do is respond to issues, you lose your hope. You wake up in the morning assuming you’re going to have to deal with something today…and you find it, because you’re looking for it.
  5. They’re typically behind in something. It’s almost impossible to stay on top of your work when you’re a reactive leader. Too many things happen that interrupt your schedule that you think you must address.
  6. They’re often idolaters of self. That’s not always the case, but some leaders live in reactionary mode because they can’t envision anyone else fixing the problems like they can. Trusting others is almost out of the question.
  7. They can be “gently negative” about their congregation. That is, they don’t blatantly speak against their church; instead, they just quietly let others know how much they have to work and sacrifice to lead them.
  8. They don’t often get genuinely excited about anything. Any “joy” is temporary because they know that something will eventually go wrong. Nothing is as good as it seems.
  9. They often have frustrated staff and lay leaders. Some who work with them are longing for somebody to take a proactive lead. If they love their pastor, though, it’s hard to say anything.
  10. Their church usually isn’t growing. Reactionary leaders are almost always turned inwardly because that’s where the issues are. Inwardly focused leaders don’t lead outwardly focused churches.

Do you see yourself in any of these characteristics? If you’re leaning toward being a reactionary leader (or already are one), please know that I’m praying for my readers today. Feel free to leave a prayer request for me.

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless
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.

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