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Leadership’s Missing Ingredient

July 4, 2012

Over the past couple of decades the spiritual gift that receives the most attention in church ministry circles is leadership.  There are leadership books, leadership conferences, leadership webcasts, leadership blogs, leadership tweets, leadership lunches.  Heck, there may be a leadership line of clothing for all I know…maybe it’s Rick Warren Hawaiian Shirts and Bill Hybels Sailing Hats.

Either way, all of the emphasis on leadership is a good thing.  I have read the books and attended the conferences, and they have definitely made me a more effective leader.

And the gift of leadership IS essential to church planting.  Leaders cast vision, raise funds, organize teams, motivate the disheartened, and help people take steps towards Christ.  Obviously, you can’t plant a church without doing those things!  Other church planting books will tell you—accurately so—that if you don’t have any leadership gift that you probably should not plant a church.

However, there are a lot of problems in churches today because of another spiritual gift that doesn’t make a lot of noise, but is vital to success.

I’m talking about the gift of wisdom.


I love a good Mexican meal: burritos, tacos, fajitas, chips and guac, sopapillas—I’ll eat all of it!  But here’s my theory—you can judge any Mexican restaurant as soon as they bring you the salsa.  If the salsa’s good, it’s going to be a great meal.  If the salsa’s nasty, “Check please, amigo.”  Because the salsa (for me) goes on top of everything!  If I’m eating a fajita, it’s got to have good salsa on top. If it’s a taco, needs some good salsa.  Chips—obviously need the salsa.  Sopapillas…well, you get the point.  You can have great Mexican dishes, but without good salsa I won’t be back.

Wisdom is the salsa for everything we do in leadership.

You can cast vision, you can motivate, you can organize—but if you don’t do it wisely you will burn people out, alienate the very people you are trying to lead, and you’ll sit in frustration knowing you’re a good leader and end up blaming the people you led for not following, when the reality is it’s your fault because you lacked the necessary wisdom to do it right.

You can have leadership without wisdom:

  • You can raise funds without wisdom and you’ll spend them very quickly.
  • You can organize a team without wisdom…and they’ll get burnt out over time.
  • You can build a great church without wisdom…but they may be following you instead of Jesus.

Leadership without wisdom is just bland.

The Bible of course speaks to the need for wisdom.  Proverbs 4 says this:

Get wisdom; develop good judgment.

      Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. 

Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.

      Love her, and she will guard you. 

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!

      And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. 

If you prize wisdom, she will make you great.

      Embrace her, and she will honor you. 

I will teach you wisdom’s ways

      and lead you in straight paths.

When you walk, you won’t be held back;

      when you run, you won’t stumble.

I believe wisdom is the missing key to many church plants today.

Yet, Scripturally its one of the easiest things to attain. James says if you lack it ask God for it, and He will pour it out on you. But too often in the fast paced world of church planting, we have so much going on that we simply don’t stop and ask…yet this is where it all begins.

Daily, before you start your day you ask for wisdom. Because like vision, wisdom leaks, you can have it one day and then use it all up. Ask God for a fresh supply daily!

Wisdom is that weird inclination that makes you treat each situation differently.

Wisdom is that gut feeling that you need to make a bold ask at this lunch appointment.

Wisdom is that quiet confidence that you’ve done all you can do and God will deliver you.

Wisdom is that check in your soul that keeps you humble when making a big ask.

What happened when you saw leadership practiced without wisdom?

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