Why Key Ministry Leaders Fail?

Why Key Ministry Leaders Fail? I grew up in a pastor’s home. Some of my best friends growing up were pastor’s kids. We would go to ministry conferences as a family growing up, so I was able to quietly observed ministry leaders from “behind the curtain.”   

I attended a private Christian school and was part of the church’s youth ministry connected to that school, where we went through 4 youth pastors in 4 years of high school. I watch what not to do and not to be leading a ministry. 

After high school, I headed off to Bible college to attend two different colleges, being taught ministry and leadership, often from people who were no longer actively leading ministry in a church setting—observing the saying “those who can’t teach…”  in many ways. All while trying to figure out how to lead a youth ministry in a small local church for those four years, mostly on my own. 

After college, I went off into full-time youth ministry. Now I am well into my 28th year of working full-time on a church staff; I have led under roughly 8-9 “key” leaders of ministries, as well as working with and beside 40-50 leaders on staff. I look back at these churches I served… brokenhearted to see complete leadership overhauls, skeletons of what they once were, or some who have completely shut their doors. All because of failures in key leadership. 

I have continued to work on my own leadership while watching and studying “key” leaders of ministries. Observationally I have first-hand seen and experienced ten main reasons why key leaders fail their ministries, staff teams, and congregations. 

  • Position. Key ministry leaders fail because they seek to get, keep, or regain a position. They miss the fact that organizational charts in ministry are not about who leads who but who cares for who.
  •  Power. Key leaders of ministries fail because they think their leadership comes from their power over the ministry and people. They forget any power they have is a gift from God to be stewarded.
  • Politics. Key leaders of ministries fail because they become more politicians than prophets. They become too scared to offend, using relationships as pawns to be played, not people to be cared for.
  • Perspective. Key leaders of ministries fail when they are locked up in their tower of position, power, and politics so that they can only see one perspective from above. Ministries only succeed when the bottom-up, kingdom perspective “least of these” are given a seat and a say.
  • Perception. Key leaders of ministries falter when they become obsessed with how they and their leadership are perceived. They only walk into a leadership dead end when they allow their limited and personal perceptions to become their overwhelming reality.
  • Perfectionism. Key leaders of ministries lead imperfect people inside of imperfect human ministries and seek to give their best to God. Leaders fail when they don’t understand the difference between a ministry of excellence and perfection.
  • Prejudice. Key leaders of ministries will soon see their leadership and ministry shrink instead of growing because the seeds of their prejudices have been planted and taken root. Societal, racial, generational, and spiritual prejudices will always lead to failure in ministry.
  • Possessiveness. Key leaders of ministries that view the ministry through the tight grip of being “theirs” will soon be left alone in empty rooms without followers seeking to be part of a community of owners and stakeholders. When the ultimate control of all decisions down to minor details are the leaders, they will ultimately have nothing.
  • Pride. Key leaders of ministries will fall because pride has come before. There is a difference between Godly confidence and human conceit.   Good leaders know that it is less about them and more about God. When they must increase, God ultimately will decrease. When God decreases, He decreases everything else.
  • Passion. Key leaders of ministry will always swerve off into the ditch with the driving force of wrong passion. Why do leaders have moral failures, or financial missteps, because they have allowed their love to become for the wrong things? Leaders will crash when the wrong passion is in the driver’s seat.