No one that I know of sets out with a goal to become a bad leder or bad communicator, but sadly many eventually do so. Here are ten descriptors of bad teachers/bad leaders from Chuck Lawless

Originally posted by By Chuck Lawless

Several times in my teaching career, I’ve asked graduate students to give me descriptions of the worst teachers they’ve had. During those same years, I’ve watched leaders, discussed leadership, and read leadership books to learn characteristics of good and bad leaders. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve seen that some of the characteristics of bad teachers and bad leaders are the same.

 1.  They don’t communicate well. Sometimes they just don’t communicate; they expect others to read their mind and meet their unstated expectations. At other times, they are simply boring when they do try to communicate.

2.  They make others feel dumb. They don’t miss many opportunities to point out when others are wrong. Nor do they miss a chance to show others how much they know. Eventually, no one speaks up around them – and the worst teachers and leaders are too unaware to recognize they are often the problem.

3.  They’re disorganized. Maybe they’re just so busy that it’s hard to stay on top of everything, or maybe they’re just plain disorganized. Either way, they usually can’t figure out why others struggle with following their unclear – and often changing – directions.

4.  They’re disconnected. Many are the students and staff members who are frustrated by teachers and leaders who are nowhere to be found. When the teacher or leader fails to build relationships, those he teaches or leads become means to an end – not people created in the image of God.

5.  They’re lazy. It’s clear from their lack of passion that they lost their focus and energy years ago. They know nothing new, and their teaching/leading has not changed in decades. They may think others don’t realize they’re just “going through the motions,” but they’re kidding no one.

6.  They are arrogant. You know what this trait looks like, even in Christian organizations. These teachers and leaders always talk about themselves. Any sense of humility seems to be forced; in fact, others see it as only another way to point out how good they are.

7.  They’re critical. Not only do they criticize others, but even more importantly, they almost never praise others. The only time you hear from them is when they want to correct something.

8.  They don’t know what they’re talking about. Some teachers don’t know their material well, and some leaders don’t know their field well. In some cases, both have been given their positions for some reason other than their know-how – and it’s obvious.

9.  They don’t enjoy their work. People who spend time with them learn quickly that they have no joy in their day-to-day tasks. Their smiles are forced and their laughter is infrequent.

10.  Their Christian walk is debatable. That is, some who know them best question the depth of their walk with God – primarily because the leaders they are in public are not always the people they are in private. Needless to say, this problem is, among all these listed here, the most serious one for Christian teachers and leaders.

Recognizing that all of us probably show some of these characteristics at times, what other characteristics would you add to this list?



Loyalty gone amok

A few years ago I read a very insightful and extremely helpful book which sits on my bookshelf among a handful of books (about 10) that I call “Must Reads” for leaders.

The book is titled “The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders,” by Ira Chaleff.

There is a Book Note for this book on my blog site: Check it out and, if you like it, purchase the book.

Here is a snippet from the book to whet your appetite:

“Courageous followers value organizational harmony and their relationship with the leader, but not at the expense of the common purpose and their integrity. We work together with mutual respect and honesty to achieve our common purpose. Followers and leaders both orbit around the purpose; followers do not orbit around the leader. A central dichotomy of courageous followership is the need to energetically perform two opposite roles: implementer and challenger of the leader’s ideas.”

Chaleff is really onto something with this book which can significantly hurt any group, church or organization when loyalty to the leader is a must at all costs.

Some leaders are so insecure that any form of disloyalty to their ideas or desires is seen as disrespect and grounds for removal from the team or organization. You don’t have to be brilliant to see where this can lead, and has led, in some churches and Christian organizations over the years. I speak from personal experience.

Following is a quote from Devlin Barrett, a reporter in Washington, D.C. that we have all heard or read about, which demonstrates the problems which can ensue when loyalty is expected and demanded at any price and there is a price to pay.

 “Fired FBI director James B. Comey said President Trump told him at the White House “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” during their private dinner conversation in January, according to written remarks from Comey offering a vivid preview of his testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“In seven remarkable pages of prepared testimony, Comey describes a president obsessed with loyalty and publicly clearing his name amid an FBI investigation of his associates, and the FBI director’s growing unease with the nature of the demands being made of him in their private conversations.”

Underlining is mine.

My point in sharing this is not to defend or accuse our president nor speak of his innocence or guilt in all of this, but to simply illustrate how demanding loyalty can get us in a heap of trouble which, in this case, it has!

There is a time for being loyal and a time for being disloyal when something of greater value is at stake

Loyalty to the leader’s wishes takes a back seat in Christian leadership when loyalty to the following would need to be comprised or disregarded:

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ
  • The clear and undeniable teaching of the Bible
  • The organization’s stated and agreed-upon Purpose
  • The organization’s stated and agreed-upon Values
  • The organization’s stated and agreed-upon Vision
  • The organization’s stated and agreed-upon culture and philosophy

For Christian leaders, loyalty to the Bible, the gospel and the purpose, values and vision of the organization in which we serve is more important than loyalty to an individual leader.

When the leader is in step with what we absolutely need to be loyal to, we stand up for that leader. When the leader is not, we need to be courageous followers and stand up to that leader and advocate for a greater value. 

This obviously requires lots of courage, grace and wisdom to know when to stand up for or stand up to the leader. May the Lord of heaven and earth grant us that wisdom so we can honor him!





How to respond to reasonable resistance to your leadership ideas

All opposition is not bad. As leaders we have our blind spots and can be stubborn with our own ideas. When someone resists us, we can learn from it as opposed to  be defensive and close-minded. Dan Rockwell shares 5 responses to reasoned resistance. Read, learn and grow!

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


The line between bold and foolish is often determined by success or failure.

Fearful organizations are full of people who know why it’s better to stay the same.

Remarkable success requires boldness, but bold leaders fail more.

Subtle opposition to change:

Disingenuous concern:

Critics and opponents use questions that sound like concern. I remember a secretary who said, “When I don’t want to do something, I ask lots of questions.” She uses distraction and foot dragging to escape change. Her questions seem like concern.

Disguised cowardice:

Cowardice comes disguised as wisdom in top-down organizations that automatically punish failure. Fearful leaders say, “It seems like a good idea,” but won’t commit.

Cowardly leaders support risk-takers and punish them when they fail.

Self-protective career building:

Career builders protect themselves by hanging back until success seems assured. They speak opposition privately in after meetings.


The difference between average and exceptional begins with boldness.

If you don’t feel afraid, you aren’t leading. Leadership requires courage. The more courage you display, the more courage you inspire and the more resistance you invite.

The cure for cowardly resistance is hope. Exploring cowardly resistance validates cowardice. The solution to reasoned resistance is forward-facing exploration.

5 responses to reasoned resistance:

Forward-facing exploration:

  1. What are we missing? What am I missing?
  2. How might we test these ideas in an acceptable way?
  3. What makes staying the same better than trying something new? How might we answer your concerns?
  4. What happens if things stay the same?
  5. Next year at this time, what will we wish we had done? Not done?

Leaders who push back on reasoned resistance, without exploring it, create more resistance.

What behaviors exemplify fearful organizations?

How might leaders respond to reasoned resistance?







Is it just tiredness you are dealing with or is it actually exhaustion leading to burnout?

Often when I am speaking somewhere and introducing myself I say that being tired is biblical, but being retired is not. Now, this statement is not meant to be a slam against retirement, but rather a criticism against those who say they are retiring and are stepping down from and stepping away from doing anything to make a continued difference for the kingdom.

It’s perfectly okay, in my book, to slow down, change things up a bit, discontinue doing some things so you can focus on a few things, but I honestly have a problem with those who at some point in their 50s, 60s or 70s who are in good health and could continue to have influence for the kingdom, but instead decide to stop doing much of anything of eternal value and chose instead to sail into the sunset as they watch more TV, play endless rounds of golf or take more cruises to one place and the other. When you are in your 50-70s or even 80s, you can make some of the best contributions of your life, and younger leaders need you more than you realize.

I will be 78 in December of this year and will continue to trust God to bear fruit in old age (Psalm 90:14) as long as I have vision and vitality. I have no desire to “retire” and do little or nothing.

Now, switching gears a bit: In my work with leaders and the churches in which they serve, I am encountering (more so than ever before) those who are very tired. As I said earlier, tired is okay. Jesus was tired and fell asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm. Paul was tired and speaks of it in Colossians 1:29 where he says:

“For this I toil, ‘struggling’ with all his energy...” ESV

Or, in the New King James Bible, “…I also Labor…”

The word toil, labor (Greek word Kopiano), according to the Strong’s Concordance, means:  “To feel fatigued, work hard, be wearied.” Paul was tired, very tired, but that’s okay and very biblical to my way of thinking. But when and how can tired become exhaustion that leads to burnout?

A few years ago when I would meet somebody I hadn’t seen in a while, upon asking them how they were doing, I would often hear that they were busy, very busy. I still hear that, but now I’m also hearing I’m very tired. Now, as I say (and Jesus and Paul would agree), tired is okay. There is something good about feeling tired after working hard--whether that be a physical or mental expenditure.

But when tired turns into very tired/exhausted (which many leaders are really speaking of) that gradually leads to burnout, which over time can lead to moral failure and disqualification from ministry, we have a problem--a big problem!  So the critical question is: when does tired develop into exhaustion and head down the road to very dangerous burnout?

The only way you will be a “Leader Who Lasts” in ministry over the long haul is to stay healthy spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.

From the book “Lasting Impact” by Carey Nieuwhof, here are some signs you are moving into an unhealthy and possibly exhaustion/burnout place.

1.  Your motivation is fading

2.  Your main emotion is numbness

3.  People drain you more than they normally do

4.  Little things make you disproportionately angry.

5.  You’re self-medicating (for some leaders food is their drug of choice)

6.  You laugh hardly at all anymore

7.  Sleep and time off no longer refuel you

Do you recognize any of these signs in your life or in the life of someone with whom you serve?

Here are some things to keep in mind to prevent you from going down the slippery slope of exhaustion and burnout:

1. Make sure you have consistent and life-giving times alone with the Savior in scripture, prayer, worship, confession and repentance--both in your “closet” and in your community. Make it a top priority in your schedule.

2.  Exercise 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Swim, bike, run, use exercise equipment or whatever you would be able to do consistently, but do something besides vegging on the couch.

3.  Watch what you eat. Make sure you have a balanced diet and are not “living” at the fast food restaurants.

4.  Get 7-9 hours of sleep and take short naps during the day. Naps are gaining a new level of acceptance in leadership circles today.

5.  Create margin/space and don’t fill every square on the chess board with work.

6.  Maintain quality time with family and friends

7.  Develop some hobbies and spend some time each week involved with those things which refresh and renew you.  The leader who says his work is his hobby is kidding himself and living a dangerous life.

8.  Find a mentor or coach to walk with you and hold you accountable. Perhaps someone older who has been down the road you are traveling and has gained some wisdom which can be passed along to you.

If you are not very carful, work will take over most everything in your life and push Jesus, family, friends, good eating habits, exercise and fun out of the picture.

This is nothing to take lightly. There are strewed bodies all over the leadership landscape. Please don’t become one of them--and don’t say that it can’t happen to you!


The one behavior leaders fail at the most!

Leaders succeed and leaders fail; it’s all part of the leadership landscape. Here’s a question to ask and ponder. What behavior is it that leaders fail at the most and why do they fail at this?

Read on for some good insight from leadership freak, Dan Rockwell.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

The research of Kouzes and Posner indicates that seeking feedback is the behavior leaders fail at the most.*

Useful feedback enables you to compare self-perception with the perception of others. Experience shows that the gap is often surprising and uncomfortable.

The more authority you have, the less likely you seek or listen to feedback. You wrongly believe you’re above this essential exercise. As time passes, you settle into comfortable leadership ruts.

Feedback enables leaders to tap untapped potential. Without feedback you may do well. But, if you seek and listen to feedback, you’ll do better.

3 Challenges for seeking and receiving feedback:

  1. The need to appear like you have it all together.
  2. Finding someone with courage to tell you the truth with your best interest at heart.
  3. Rejecting the voice of your own gut in order to test the instincts of others.

Seek feedback:

Ask specific questions about behaviors.

“How am I doing?” invites general feedback. On the other hand, “How is my hands-off approaching working with you,” invites specific useful feedback.

  1. What did you think I was trying to accomplish when …? Don’t tell people what you were doing. Ask them.
  2. What am I doing that helps you connect to organizational values and mission?
  3. What am I doing that enhances your performance? Hinders?
  4. When am I most effective? Least effective?
  5. How am I enhancing the performance of teams?

Intentions matter to you. Behaviors matter to others.

Respond to feedback:

  1. The first response to feedback is always the same. Thank you.
  2. Say, “Tell me more.”
  3. Ask, “What do you suggest?”

The pursuit of excellence requires feedback that describes, affirms, challenges, and improves specific behaviors.

What might leaders do to solicit useful feedback?

What are some useful responses to feedback?

*The Leadership Challenge