The 9 Characteristics of Courageous Leadership

These posts have been my attempt to examine courageous Christian leadership. Thus far, we’ve made eight observations about leadership in a culture of cowardice:

One: Courageous leadership is not about skill, technique, or knowledge. It is, most of all, about the presence of the leader as he or she moves through life.

Two: Take full responsibility for your own emotional being and destiny.

Three: Promote healthy differentiation within the church or system you lead.

Four: Stand, as an exemplar, in the sabotage and backlash that must come.

Five: Don’t “push on the rope:” the unmotivated are invulnerable to insight.

Six: Undermine the 80/20 Rule.

Seven: Reintroduce yourself to the adventurous life.

Eight: Disengage an unreasonable faith in reasonableness.

This brings us to the ninth, and final, principle: Leaders go first.


-Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship


As leaders, we get to champion our people to become who they always wanted to be, by taking them where they never wanted to go.

Since values are revealed in behavior, what does your lifestyle disclose, pastor? When the time has come to take a courageous stand, what does your behavior reveal?

• When the opportunity came to stand up to that manipulative, obstructionist power-wielding elder, what did you do?

• When you thought to lead your parish out into the city to serve, love, and impact those outside your tight-knit congregation – and
pushback came, as it always does – did you lead courageously or cave under pressure?

• When a clear biblical injunction has become as unpopular in your denomination as in the culture at large, have you censored your own voice?

• When the Holy Spirit stirred you to put your hand to the plow in pursuit of some great, challenging work for God’s glory, did the fearful complaints of the cowardly prevail in the end?

And, since life is always lived from now on, your past behavior is no predictor of the greatness you’ll accomplish before you breathe your last.

So, before you see Him face to face, what great, rewarding, daring adventure will you and your people give yourselves to?

What’ll it be?

You get to choose.

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

The “Feminization” of the Church

In our commitment to be reasonable, I suggest that the Church in the West has been emasculated. Neutered. Feminized.

Consider this: those most absent from church are men and young adults.

According to David Murrow, they esteem challenge over security. The key values of this missing population include: adventure, risk, daring, independence, variety, and reward.

Women and seniors are more likely to embrace as core values: safety, stability, harmony, predictability, comfort, support, and tradition.

And, here we find the Church in our day.

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

Have you Read…

Pastor, have you noticed the anxiety growing in your people, dividing them from one another, concern weighing on their minds and hearts, and a sort of pervasive discouragement? More than twenty years ago Edwin Friedman in A Failure of Nerve observed that American culture had become fraught with chronic anxiety and, in that condition, the least mature would have great societal influence.

How prescient Friedman was!

He goes on to prescribe a distinctive kind of leadership necessary in anxious contexts. Reading, I was stunned by the consistent ways that Jesus modeled the characteristics Friedman identified.

So, I wrote Leadership Courage for pastors and Christian leaders applying Friedman’s brilliance to the local church.

It is now available at:


Church Values…

I subscribe to an excellent service called Leader’s Book Summaries []. I highly recommend it. In a summary of David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church” I learned that only one third of church attendees are men—and most of them are over 60. It’s almost impossible to find adults of either gender under age 40 in church.

How come?

Consider these two lists of values.

The first list: Love, communication, beauty, relationships,

support, help, nurture, feelings, sharing, harmony, community, and cooperation.

And, the second list: Competence, power, efficiency, achievement, skills, results, accomplishment, technology, goals, success, and competition.

Which list of values do you think is most consistent with the culture that predominates the North American Church today?

The first list or the second list?

Both lists come from John Gray’s “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and they distinguish culturally “masculine” and “feminine” values.

What do you see?



-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship


Reasonable leadership is ruining the Church in North America in our time.

We’ve pointed out that when you preach what you don’t practice the dissonance repels people–not just from your sanctuary–but from Christianity. The implications for a society are deeply profound and can infect it for generations.

Christianity is nothing if not a call to courage. When her leaders bow before the idol of reasonableness, a dry, hum-drum philosophical religion results.

And, men, in particular, leave the church in droves.

Or haven’t you noticed?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Churchill or Chamberlain?

Pastor, those who write books, like those who traverse the Christian speaking circuit, don’t provide the regular proximity and access that you, as shepherd of a local congregation, do—unless you hide in your study and only emerge when it’s time to preach or take charge of a meeting.

Think about those words: proximity and access.

If the lyrics and music of your preaching and your life don’t align, those words will strike fear in you.

If, however, you’ve raised your way-of-living to match your preaching or aligned your preaching to that which you actually live, those words will resonate with your heart.

When your life is “Chamberlainian,” the dissonance between your life and the biblical message undercuts your effectiveness as a leader of God’s women and men.

When your living is “Churchillian” the bravery to which you call your congregation will remind them of the courage they see you routinely summon to bring God’s reign to the chaos and disorder that has besieged your community.

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Role Model or Educator?

Pastor, who you are, is more important than anything you say.

In fact, who you are is more important than everything you say!

These posts are a call to the courageous, risky life that leaders lived in the Church of the New Testament. It stands in glaring contrast to the lifestyle of the professional clergy that, more often than not, resembles tenured professors at our nation’s universities, without the taxpayer-funded salary and benefits.

This is primarily troubling, pastor, because you are not primarily an educator…you are a role model.

Just like Timothy, Deborah, Paul, Priscilla & Aquila, Barnabas, Esther, John, Anna, and Stephen. Yes, just like them.

If not you, then who?

Who else is to model the vibrant, sold-out Christian life than you and your elders?


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

The Ring of Authenticity

As a leader, who you are is more important than anything you say. In fact, who you are is more important than everything you say.

Some ministers are master pulpiteers. Skilled rhetoricians. Gifted
orators. Big talkers.

Talk that’s not backed by a consistent life has a hollow ring, and that hollowness drives people away—away from church and away from the Church.

When Winston Churchill addressed the Harrow School in late October 1941 his speech included these most famous words: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty— never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

His words, then and now, ring true. You know why?

Because Churchill didn’t give in.

Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister prior to Churchill,
was known as the “great appeaser” who capitulated to Adolf Hitler.

Chamberlain could never have made that speech. If he had, it would not have been remembered.

The words didn’t match his life.

Do yours?

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

Heroes of Moderation?

In the scriptures, moderation in living for Christ is never esteemed.

Who are the heroes of moderation? Peter in Caiaphas’ courtyard? Thomas, in his disbelief? Judas Iscariot?

Jesus is unambiguous: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. [Luke 9:23]

Clear as a bell.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other. [Luke 16:13]


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage #discipleship

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