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Why Are So Many People Afraid to Claim the Role of Church Leader?

In the course of my work as a consultant with TAG Consulting, I use an assessment tool, the Transforming Church Index (TCI). Part of that tool gathers basic demographic information from those participating in the survey.

One question we ask is, “What is your position/role at the church?” We then give them the following answer choices: 1. Pastor/Staff 2. Volunteer Leader 3. Member 4. Nonmember. In some churches, the percentage of people that self-select “Leader” is 20 percent or higher. But in far too many churches, the percentage is so low that the actual number of those who self-select as leaders is less than the number of people on the church board! What this means is that the percentage of people in leadership positions who see themselves as leaders is very low.

Who are the leaders in the church? There are two types of leaders in the church, those who have it by position and those who have it by the way they live. Positional leadership alone is no leadership at all. Those in the church that are in leadership positions (board members, ministry team leaders, teachers, small group leaders, etc.), but who do not claim that leadership in the way they live, are not leaders. And the church is full of these positional leaders who have not stepped up to claim it and live it. And the church suffers because of it.

So why do people fail to claim the role of leader? It seems that most people almost run from it. Ask someone to lead and they will say that they want to be involved, but they don’t want to be a leader. There are many reasons people refuse to claim their leadership, including:

They don’t see in themselves the gifts that others see.

The world constantly tells us how much we are lacking. We aren’t smart enough or experienced enough or pretty enough or … (fill in the blank). To raise up leaders, we must not just see the gifts in others, we need to help them see those gifts in themselves. Everyone has been given unique gifts and talents by God to be used in intentional ways. We must build people up even as we are recruiting them, for the world is busy in tearing them down.

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After a career as a pastor, John is now a consultant with TAG Consulting. He specializes in coaching individuals and teams in the process of transformational leadership.