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5 Things That KILL a Strong Leadership Finish

I remember watching Jack Hayford at a meeting conducted with the Foursquare national cabinet—about 70 of their key national leaders.

I facilitated the meeting from the stage, helping them to find a new president and look to the future. Pastor Jack (that’s what we all call him) was retiring and they needed (and had) an honest conversation about where things were, are, and needed to go. A minor portion of that conversation included criticism of some of Jack’s decisions—as he sat on the front row!

After the discussion was done, he asked to speak, and I gulped. He got up, thanked me and then praised the forthright conversation that had just taken place.

The humility it took to do that is only one quality that made him one who is finishing well.

I want to be careful here: This post is not intended to incite gossip or bitterness toward those who have gone before us.

If we aren’t careful, our conversation can spiral into unguarded accusations and frustrations. That’s not helpful, nor is it biblical. I won’t post any derogatory comments or attempts to guess identities, but I think this moment is worth considering—particularly since there seems to be a pattern. And this is a clear and repeated pattern in many movements.

Yet, if we don’t examine unhealthy patterns, we—and by that I mean ME—can fall prey to repeating the same mistakes. To be honest, I do find some of those tendencies in my own heart at times—and I don’t want that to grow and take root in me (or you).

We ought to be sharpening one another as iron sharpens iron. We ought to look at the examples of those who have gone on before us (1 Cor. 10:1-13), both the good and the bad. Then we need to take a look in the mirror and examine ourselves.

I want to ask two questions for your consideration:

How should we handle it when those we respect are in the position of not finishing well?

And how should we prepare ourselves for our own eventual transitions from leadership?

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.