Good Leaders Recognize Trouble on the Horizon

When I pray about my leadership role, be it in church or family, I ask God to help me keep my eyes open to the reality of what’s happening around me. Leaders often have an ideal concept of the organism they lead and, therefore, have a tendancy to miss troubles lurking that may seem obvious to others. This is why it’s important for leaders to remain open to the input of those around them for honest feedback. I believe a good leader scans the horizon – visually and verbally, on the lookout for signs of trouble. Seldom does a family, church or business fail overnight. There are typically seasons of decline that preface collapse.

One way to guard against this danger is to ask those you trust to speak up if they notice dangerous behaviors or warning signs that trouble lies ahead. The responsibility of realistically evaluating those signs is the role of every leader. Closing my eyes to those warnings is foolish, and will surely lead to the eventual painful demise of those for whom I care most.

Perry Noble recently posted “15 Signs a Church is in Trouble” on his blog. ( It’s a good list to use in evaluating your ministry. Is there anything you’d add to Noble’s list? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Here’s Perry’s list of 15 Signs:

#1 – When excuses are made about the way things are instead of embracing a willingness to roll up the sleeves and fix the problem.

#2 – When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them…in other words, they lose their passion for evangelism!

#3 – The focus of the church is to build a great church (complete with the pastors picture…and his wife’s…on everything) and not the Kingdom of God.

#4 – The leadership begins to settle for the natural rather than rely on the supernatural.

#5 – The church begins to view success/failure in regards to how they are viewed in the church world rather than whether or not they are actually fulfilling the Great Commission!

#6 – The leaders within the church cease to be coachable.

#7 – There is a loss of a sense of urgency!  (Hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong and the cross is no longer important!)

#8 – Scripture isn’t central in every decision that is made!

#9 – The church is reactive rather than proactive.

#10 – The people in the church lose sight of the next generation and refuse to fund ministry simply because they don’t understand “those young people.”

#11 – The goal of the church is to simply maintain the way things are…to NOT rock the boat and/or upset anyone…especially the big givers!

#12 – The church is no longer willing to take steps of faith because “there is just too much to lose.”

#13 – The church simply does not care about the obvious and immediate needs that exist in the community.

#14 – The people learn how to depend on one man to minister to everyone rather than everyone embracing their role in the body, thus allowing the body to care for itself.

#15 – When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.

What are your thoughts on this list? What would you add from your experience? What are some signs to indicate a family/marriage/child is in trouble? Share your comments below.

Posted: November 24, 2009 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Leadership, Pastor Jeff
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,
Comments: 4 Comments


4 Responses to “Good Leaders Recognize Trouble on the Horizon”
  1. paula halbach says:

    i would say when multiple persons come to the elders/pastor to communicate concerns (same/similar concerns) and the response is basically, ‘if you don’t like it here, find another church.’ … so, where the elders/pastor have hardened hearts and have decided that they know best. (this is a tricky line, due to the nature of the elder board’s job) and that basically nothing anyone can say is going to change their minds.

    when there are multiple ‘resignations’ in a period of years, and the ‘resignees’ go away hurt and unresolved and are warned not to talk about their ‘resignation’ or the circumstances surrounding it.

    question? confused by this comment? give me a call.

  2. admin says:

    Paula –

    You’re right. Leadership is a difficult position because you sometimes have to make decisions and steps that aren’t popular. But a leader who doesn’t listen, especially to a plethora of similar concerns is in dangerous territory. However, I’ve been there, done that at different times in my own leadership with decisions. It’s why we as leaders need to earn trust, so we can cash in those chips and ask for trust from those we lead when we think our perspective is possibly more informed. I only earn that trust by demonstrating a willingness to give up my will on other points along the journey. As with family leadership, we influence others best when we not only lead, but also listen in the process. Thanks for the reminder.

    You’re always welcome to come talk to me and let me know when I’m out of line or not listening. You may have to wait in line behind Deana. 😮


  3. Brian Jeffreys says:

    My favorites are #4 and #8. There are so many believers that are biblically illiterate (not in our church of course) because there is sometimes a lack of focus on disciplining; coming along side other believers and walking through the scriptures together. That is why I am glad our church is focused on Expository Preaching and driving that principle down into our classes, bible studies, and home teams.

    As we have seen on #4, a church that gets on its knees before God can expect God to answer in big ways.

    I think another warning sign is when a body of believers turns a blind eye to those around them who are struggling. Sometimes, people just don’t know what they can do to help. I know of at least one family in our church who have allowed another family to stay in their home because of a lost job. Now that is Christ in action (Gal 2:10).

  4. paula halbach says:

    should’ve qualified my response as “not our current church”!!!! i am referencing another church i went to for a long time and eventually had to leave b/c of some of those issues.

    please know that if i had a beef with you, i wouldn’t veil it in a comment on a message board!

    I love our church and i think the elders and pastors are doing a GREAT job leading!!

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