Leadership is a challenging calling. Being the point of the spear always looks great on paper. In fact, whenever I talk with my colleagues in youth ministry, they are always itching to lead. They read the books, they swing for the fences, and they take full advantage of the positional authority they have been given.
But when the pushback comes, I am horrified that the go to culprit of the people's rebellion is spiritual warfare. A spirit of rebellion, a lack of trust in God and in their leaders. Or when the decision is having awful, unintended consequences that are difficult to explain, then the only option for explanation is a spiritual one.
While I totally believe in the spiritual realm, and believe that spiritual warfare is real and awful and an ever present danger, I think that this spiritualized answer stunts the growth of people called to be leaders and holds them back from being the good leaders God desires for them to be.
It is like when our students start sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend, and then are horrified and shocked that they got pregnant or get an STD. How could this be?!?!?! Or when you take out the church van but didn't check the oil, gas, or tires, and then have car troubles half way to the mission trip you are leading. Satan doesn't want us to do this!!! Actions have consequences, and our leadership choices, and the tenor in which we lead will have consequences.
So instead of first elevating yourself of responsibility and blame the prince of darkness, maybe you should own the fact that you simply did not lead well.
An example of incredible leadership:
Craig Groeshel, The pastor at LifeChurch.tv gave an incredible talk at last year's Catalyst conference clarifying this point. Their church had been growing like crazy and for 10 years the leadership team he had put in place had been killing it. Spiritually and personally, these guys were on the top of their game.
Then one by one, some of these top leaders began to have moral failures. At first it was an anomaly, but after the 3rd, it was obvious something was afoot. It would have been so easy to blame this problem on Satan trying to slow down the amazing advancement of the Kingdom that he and his team were doing. And if he did that, he would have gotten kudos, seemed even more spiritual, and would have continued to lead his organization down a dangerous road.
But instead of taking the easy way out, he Craig owned that every result of his team ultimately lies at his feet. In some way he was responsible for the moral failings of these guys on his team. He did the hard work of reflection and consulting and realized that he had been pushing his team to the point of fumes. They were unhealthy in their rhythms of life and that opened them up for temptation and death and destruction.
As an incredible leader, Craig owned the problem, and worked towards a solution. He began to change the working culture of his church and cared for his leaders differently, which translated to a much healthier organization.
Leadership is hard, but it is not rocket science.
Not everyone is going to agree with you, not everyone is going to go along with you. Sometime the decisions you will make will be the wrong ones, and people around you want to help you see that. Dropping the spiritual hammer and blaming their pushback with with their partnership with the Dark Lord, is not a way that will endear you to your people, or help you become a better leader.
Positional leadership is a gift. A true leader is a humble and gentle leader who seeks to care for and serve those they are entrusted to lead. We must listen to others, have trusted people around us to help us navigate the land mines, and be continually reflective so we can grow in our capacity and ability to lead.
The spiritual realm is crazy and being attacked by Satan and his demons is the worst and we must continually be putting on the whole armor or God as to be able to withstand these attacks. We don't need to do Satan any favors by being unreflective, pompous idiots how let our hubris get the best of us.
The people we lead are not pawns or steps to climb for our personal greatness. Instead of objectifying those we lead, let us be patient and wise in our leadership, and continually reflective as we lead, so as to help our ministries and those in them grow closer in their love and intimacy of Jesus Christ and empowered to live the lives they were uniquely crafted to live!