Leadership Failure

A leadership failure is “ground zero” for anchoring the central values that Christ-followers are committed to live.

When Paul instructed Timothy: “Those [elders] who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” [1 Timothy 5:20], he placed the benefit to “the others” above whatever prices the leaders or the fallen elder would experience. And, I invite you to consider that “the others” who are warned are not just those inside the Church.

And yet, for centuries, we in Christendom have routinely swept these humiliations under the rug: the priest is relocated to a new parish, the pastor takes a seminary position, the missionary goes on furlough, and the youth leader enrolls in graduate school.

Those close enough to the transgression become collateral damage and often leave the church, and the Faith.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/ #leadership

#courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Leadership Failure and Character Development

Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” correctly identifies courage as central to leadership. One of the ways leadership courage expresses itself, he says, is in recognizing and declaring current reality—regardless of how embarrassing or discouraging it is.

When a prominent pastor falls, the courageous around him or her will honestly and forthrightly communicate the truth of what has happened. Because being in the people-development business often means we have to get out of the keep-the-people-comfortable business.

Courageous leaders recognize this as a critical character-development opportunity.

A leadership failure is “ground zero” for anchoring the central values that Christ-followers are committed to live.

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

“Leadership Courage” is available!

Edwin Friedman, psychologist, rabbi, lecturer, and author observed that the US had become “chronically anxious.” In this condition, he said the least mature wield the greatest influence. A cursory glance at our culture today reveals just how prescient he was. In “A Failure of Nerve” he described a distinctive kind of leadership necessary in such a context.

If his observations apply to the US, they even more so describe the condition of the Church in the West. “Leadership Courage” attempts to apply the brilliant insights of Friedman to the local pastor in America who is laboring to provoke growth and maturity in the congregation.

Leadership is primarily a matter of the heart. And, the heart of an effective pastor can be developed to conform to the postures and practices that Friedman prescribed and Jesus modeled so well. “Leadership Courage” is a provocative and contemporary examination of both.

“Leadership Courage” is available now at:




How is it that when a prominent Christian leader falls, the whole affair is so often shrouded in darkness? The secrecy seems to persist until the police, the media, an offended party, or the victim of the leadership abuse brings it into the light. How often are those illuminations met with skillfully-articulated denials or a minimizing reinterpretation of the offense? Is it just me, or do you see it, too?

We Christians are often fond of reciting John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” particularly when the topic is evangelism. The trouble is, our behavior – at very important times and in very important ways – often covers up the truth.

The Greek word translated “truth” is alethia, meaning “reality,” or “what is.” Yet, in times of crisis – like when a minister falls in sin – we seem to invest ourselves in elaborate cover-ups. One reason we do, I think, is because the Church has forgotten what business it’s in. Remember, ministry is the “people-development business.”

Is it any wonder those outside our faith community scratch their heads about us? What are they to think when we froth at the mouth about the “truth” of our Gospel and then behave in ways that endeavor to keep truth hidden? Were the roles reversed, what would you think? How likely would you be to consider their faith claims?

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Our Commitment to be Kind…

The over-commitment of Christian ministers to be kind has left our people immature and shallow.

Edwin Friedman suggests what Paul modeled: it is through challenge that we promote responsibility in our people. To be a leader who will jar your people to maturity you must raise your own pain threshold.

It follows then that you must also raise your threshold for the pain you cause others.

This means in part that we are willing to turn on the light to reveal areas of our own lives that we’d rather keep hidden. It also means we lovingly expose others to that same light.

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Love: More Stern & Splendid than Kindness

Pastor, when was the last time you jarred your people? How long has it been since your preaching provoked such sorrow in your people that it ignited a change-of-life the Bible calls “repentance?”

Would you love your people well enough to provoke them to suffer—unto repentance?

In “The Problem of Pain” CS Lewis wrote: “Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering.”

So consider: do you love your congregation sternly and splendidly, or has it been your aim to ceaselessly rescue them from suffering?

This, I think, is a second condition that’s invited the spiritual lethargy that’s settled over the Church like the marine layer that engulfs San Francisco Bay.

Our over-commitment to be kind has left our people immature and shallow.

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Do you Provoke Distress?

If you’re a minister, you are in the life-change business. This means you are also in the distress-bringing business.

Many will argue that to bring distress to your congregation is unkind.

But it’s not.

“The Message” renders 2 Corinthians 7:8-9 this way: “I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him.”

Paul wrote to change their lives. He explains that his previous letter was to see if they’d take responsibility for the church. [2 Corinthians. 2:9] Notice that Paul’s discourse produced distress and upset. It “jarred” them into turning things around.


–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

The Church in North America

The Church is supposed to be in the “life-change” business, and not in the business of religious education and entertainment.

You see, if my teaching, preaching, and writing does not change the way you live, I have wasted your time and mine.

Pastor, if you are not changing lives in identifiable, maturity-inducing ways, aren’t you wasting your time and that of the one who hears you? Multiply this by the 90 or 390 people in your church, then multiply that by the months, years, and decades that you’ve been educating people whose lives are not radically changing and what do you have?

The Church in North America.

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Why do we Change?

Pain is necessary for change.

You and I would prefer to believe that an appropriately reasonable rationale, cloaked in kindness, is all that is needed for humans to embrace the adventure and uncertainty of the unknown.

Since the Enlightenment, I suppose, societies have assumed that knowledge of what’s better will result in people making the reasoned choice to change.

But if we’re honest, most people don’t make reasoned choices.

And those people include us.  Don’t they?

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Have we Forgotten what Business we’re in?

One condition that’s welcomed the stagnation common to the church experience of most Christians is that we who are in leadership have forgotten what business we are in.

Now, I’m no historian, but my understanding is that the Protestant Reformation occurred within the sweep of the Enlightenment—the Age of Reason—and we’ve been reasoning with our congregations ever since. Reasoning kindly with them about the truths of the Bible.

We’ve been teaching the Word—as if we’re in the education business.

The problem is, education, for those of us in ministry, is not an end in itself.

An educated church person is not an end either. No more than an elevator is an end. An elevator is a means to the 11th floor. Teaching the Bible is a means to an end.

See, the Church is supposed to be in the “life-change” business.



–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage.” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

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