Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Overcoming Leadership Mistakes

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 

Every so often we hear a sad story of another Christian leader exposed for doing something wrong. These are vivid reminders that even Christian leaders make mistakes. Such news is always disappointing. Such news has the potential to shake the faith of those who are trying to remain faithful to the Lord.

Should we really be surprised that human beings fail? Just because a person is in a leadership position does not make them immune to mistakes. If fact, if adequate accountability is not put into place, being a Christian leader can actually be a place of incredible temptation. One reason that we struggle so much when we hear one of those stories is because we have placed our faith in people instead of placing our faith in Jesus Christ. We must learn to separate our faith in God from our faith in people. The reality is that sometimes a pastor will lose his temper in a business meeting. He shouldn’t, but sometimes he will. Does that mean that all the work he has done as a pastor is suddenly null and void? Perhaps a missionary took more vacation time than he should have. Does that mean that all the churches he planted are suddenly invalid? Perhaps you learn that your favorite Christian professor has padded his resume by claiming to have written more scholarship articles than he actually did. Yes, that was wrong. However, it doesn’t mean that everything he ever taught in class or wrote in the articles that he did compose can now be tossed aside.

While I do think we should call out sin in leaders when it exists, we should also give people a lot of grace. After all, isn’t that what we would want if we were in their situation? Our goal should not be to destroy them or their ministries. Our goal should be to help them overcome their sinful weaknesses and serve the Lord even more effectively than they did in the past.

I remember years ago getting into an argument with a deacon. He and I wrote a series of escalating emails back-and-forth to each other. Finally, a different deacon came to see me. He was very loving, but also very firm. He helped me see my part in the problem. I learned to stop writing caustic emails, even if someone else wrote one to me. I also learned the value of offering a brother in Christ a genuine apology. The issue was resolved and I think I was a better pastor as a result.

The question is not “will we make a mistake.” The question is “we will learn from the mistakes that we do make.” Learning from our mistakes actually helps our error become a testimony to the power of God to change our lives. But when we ignore our mistakes, or when we hide our sin and refuse to make it right, it reveals a darker side of our lives that is still in need of God’s grace.

If we see someone in leadership who makes a mistake, instead of looking for a way to humiliate them, we should confront them in love and seek to help them overcome their mistake. And if we are the leader who makes a mistake, we should be quick to acknowledge it, readily confessing it as sin. Then we can grow from the mistake into better leaders.

Lord, help us see our own faults and help us overcome those faults through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Qualities of Ineffective Leadership

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.

John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

It has often been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Effective leaders understand this. They realize that it is their efforts to lead well that make a difference in how effective their organizations are. They also realize that if things are not going well, they must look inside themselves to see what they can do as leaders to make things better. They are not afraid to admit their own weaknesses or address those weaknesses head on through additional training and personal growth so they can be the most effective leaders possible.

Unfortunately, not all those in leadership positions are effective leaders. It is not unusual for ineffective leaders to be elevated to leadership positions. It may be that they simply hung around long enough until someone finally put them into a leadership role, without really considering if they had the right skills to be an effective leader. It may be that they manipulated things behind the scenes to get into leadership, and people did not realize their inadequate leadership style until it was too late. Sometimes, they were the only person willing to lead, even though it really was not what they wanted to do. Regardless of how ineffective leaders get into leadership positions, once they are there, they seldom want to give up their positions. Because they are ineffective leaders, instead of rising to the occasion and leading their organization well, they fumble the leadership ball and keep the organization paralyzed. When confronted with the obvious challenges that come from their ineffective leadership, instead of looking at their own leadership efforts and seeking to improve as leaders, they take the exact opposite approach, they blame everyone else. Even though most people accept that everything rises and falls on leadership, ineffective leaders find ways to blame other people for their own leadership failures. They think the leadership rules do not apply to them.

The one thing ineffective leaders are often effective at, is making their arguments for why it is someone else’s fault, sound really good. They are able to convince just enough people that it is someone else’s fault to keep themselves in leadership. But eventually, people get tired of hearing excuses. At some point people start realizing the problem is not with everyone else, but the problem is with the leader. Once peoples’ confidence in a leader erodes, it is very challenging to ever get that confidence back. What was a long slow decline can quickly become a dangerous cliff the organization is tittering on. If leadership does not change immediately, the organization is unlikely to survive the fall off of the cliff.

What does this mean for those of us who are leaders? It means that if things are not going as well as we would like, instead of blaming others, we should look ask God to help us to be the kind of effective leader that moves our organization forward in tangible and healthy ways. We must resist the temptation to play the blame game and instead look for ways to lead through the challenges and see the organization we lead emerge on the other side of challenges healthier and more vibrant than ever. That is what effective leaders do.

Lord, help us not to play the blame game. Help us to honestly evaluate our own leadership style and adjust our activities in healthy ways. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Three Reasons Institutional Change is So Difficult

2 Chronicles 30:8 Don't become obstinate now like your fathers did. Give your allegiance to Yahweh, and come to His sanctuary that He has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God so that He may turn His burning anger away from you. (HSCB)

The exasperated voice on the other end of the phone was a young pastor trying to lead a nearly dead church back to life. He had proposed a number of badly needed changes. He had taken time to meet the gatekeepers in his church and earn their trust. He had carefully crafted his ideas to make them sound like positive changes instead of merely bashing history and tradition. In short, he had done everything right. But the church had a business meeting the night before and voted down a significant number of his ideas. The ideas they did accept, they stretched out the implementation over such a long period of time that they would be significantly less effective than if they were done all at once. The young man was understandably frustrated. His church was clearly in a long downward death spiral and without change they probably had less than twenty-four months left in their existence. The young man simply wanted to lead them back to a place of health and vitality.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. But sadly, I find that many churches, para-church ministries, and denominational agencies are resistant to change. While there are many reasons for this resistance, I think three rise to the top; pride, fear and ignorance.

Pride definitely plays a big part in resistance to change. Change implies that what we are doing right now is not working as effectively as it could be. For those who created the current system, that attacks their ego. If they take it personally, they feel like whoever is pushing the change is saying they are a failure or their ideas are not valid. While some leaders may be trying to say that, good leaders are simply realizing that the situation is different and therefore it requires a different response. A once great idea, great program, great ministry, or great system for leading a ministry can simply run its course. And when the end of that course comes, it is time to change. That does not mean it was a bad idea or that the people who put it together were failures. On the contrary, it means they successfully accomplished what they were trying to do with that idea and now the situation has changed and the ministry must change as well. Instead of allowing our ego to keep us from embracing change, we must remind ourselves what the mission of our ministry is all about. Is it about preserving our ego or about advancing the kingdom of God?

Fear is also a factor in resistance to change. People are not sure what the new way will look life. They are not sure where they will fit in the new system. They are not sure if their voice will be heard. These uncertainties produce fear. The bottom line is that many people fear change because they fear the unknown. They find it easier to just keep doing what they have always done even though it is no longer working as effectively as it once was. It has often been said that people will keep doing what they have always done until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. But sadly, sometimes by the time that happens, tremendous opportunities have been lost. When situations change, instead of cowing in fear at the unknown, we are called to walk in faith, believing that God knows the future and that He has our best interests at heart.

Ignorance is also a factor in resistance to change. Many people simply have not been educated enough to realize there are other options. This does not mean those people are dumb or stupid, it simply means that no one has told them that other options exist. People cannot choose an option they do not know exists. When the ministry we love is struggling, it is time to go to conference, or read the latest books, or research things on the Internet, or perhaps get involved in a different network. There are many options out there and one of them will work in our situation. We must educate ourselves so that we understand all the options possible and then prayerfully select the one that will work best in our situation.

The only thing constant in life is change. Culture changes. Fashion changes. Learning styles change. Organizational structure changes. In order to be healthy, churches and other faith-based ministries, must learn to navigate those changes. Leaders of those organizations must not let pride, fear or ignorance force us into a box that eventually kills the very ministry we love so much.

Lord, help us give up our ego for Your will. Help us replace fear with faith. Let your Spirit be our teacher to help us realize there are many options for effective ministry. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Every Day is a Green Day - Guest Post by Landon Ressor

Back a few years ago when one of our older kids was in kindergarten, the teacher had a system that monitored and tracked the students' behavior. When they were being good, their little sticker stayed on green. When they got a warning, the teacher moved their name to yellow. And if they broke the rules repeatedly, she moved them to red. Nobody wanted to be on red. But inevitably it would happen. 

Yet here was the beautiful thing ... no matter how bad a kid acted one day, no matter how many times they were warned or how many times their teacher had to move them to yellow or red and back again, each morning when they walked into class, their name was always back on green. What happened the previously day didn't matter, and it had no bearing on how they would be treated the next day. They would always get to start over each morning. This system reminded them that every day was a fresh beginning and represented a new opportunity to make good choices.

When I think about that story, I reminded of Lamentations 3.23, "Great is his faithfulness; HIS MERCIES BEGIN AFRESH EACH MORNING."

Think about that ... His mercies begin afresh each morning!

As I consider the grace and compassion of a God that, through Christ, continually offers me new mercy each morning regardless of my failures, sin, or rebellion the previous day, I am deeply moved. The passage promises me that each a.m. represents my opportunity to repent, submit, and surrender my will to His own and see Him work in a powerful and transformational way in/thru me!

So here's my encouragement, as a new year begins, as we seek new opportunities and fresh beginnings, embrace the grace and mercy of God offered to you uniquely through faith in Christ that moves you to green and provides the promise of a continual new start in Him.


Landon Ressor serves as pastor of Christ Community Church, Darien, CT. He is a happy husband and proud father. He has a passion for reaching the world for Christ, starting in the New York metro area.