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Leadership deficiencies. All leaders have them. They are the practices, activities, and personality traits which make us ineffective as leaders. They’re weaknesses that leaders should strive to turn into strengths.

Now some of these weaknesses are “structural” (i.e. not likely to change). Therefore, accommodations must be made nullify their adverse effects. For instance, King Alfonso of Spain – who ruled from 1886 to 1931 – was so tone deaf that it was impossible for him to distinguish one tune from another. This was a problem during the many ceremonies he attended or participated in. For King Alfonso couldn’t distinguish between standard marching music and the Spanish National Anthem, for which he was required to stand. To prevent embarrassment and offense, the king employed a man whose whole purpose was to sit by the king and signal to him when the anthem played.

But the leadership deficiencies which the business world identifies are of a different nature. And they can be far more destructive to an organization’s success. In a 2013 study by Drs. Clinton Longenecker and Robert D. Yonker (both of the University of Toledo), identified these top ten leadership deficiencies which undermine the success of businesses. They are:

  • Ineffective communication practices
  • Poor time and priority management skills
  • Failing to clarify direction and performance expectations
  • Ineffective interpersonal/teaming skills
  • Inability in handling stress/pressure and staying poised
  • Ineffective coaching/feedback and employee development practices
  • Poor planning skills
  • Ineffective problem‐solving and decision‐making activities
  • Ego issues
  • Disorganization

Every leader in the military and business world has heard this before. Even among seminary professors, business models of leadership are presented as the standard which prospective pastors should embrace. Sadly, however, nothing in this list pertains to deficiencies in the integrity and morality of one’s character. It ignores the fact that being dishonest, greedy, self-seeking, and abusive towards subordinates can be far more destructive to an organization’s success. Remember the catastrophic downfall of ENRON under the “leadership” of Jeffrey Skilling!

But business models of leadership and this list of performance deficiencies only involve conventional wisdom. They do not factor God into the equation. And while men and women of God should glean whatever helpful insights conventional wisdom offers, they need to remember something critical. Their supreme Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, will lead them through the realms of the spiritual and miraculous.

Therefore, God is in the habit of choosing and calling people to be leaders who may not exhibit any leadership potential. The apostle Paul summed it up in these words. “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Think about it. Who is generally considered to be the greatest leader in the Old Testament? Isn’t it Moses? He delivered two and a half million people from slavery – destroying the Egyptian Army in the process, gave them God’s Law, sustained them in the wilderness for forty years, and led them to the border of the Promised Land.

Yet, Moses exemplified many of the leadership deficiencies listed above. He had serious communication problems and exhibited no organizational skills. His own father-in-law, the Priest of Midian, pointed that out (Exodus 18:13-27). And despite the fact that Moses followed his father-in-law’s advice to organize work and delegate authority, he later reverted back to his old disorganized ways (Numbers 11:10-29).

Perhaps the only leadership deficiency which Moses did not exhibit was in the category of “Ego Problems.”  Moses was the humblest man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). He never minded being upstaged by people with better ideas and more talent. All that mattered to him was that God’s people were cared for and the divine mission was accomplished.

I say all this to encourage my fellow believers. If God is calling you to a place of leadership, don’t be overly concerned if you haven’t got a shred of leadership ability. Remember Moses and how God used his weakness to make him depend upon Him in every situation. And look at the final outcome of his obedience to God. Regardless of his leadership deficiencies, he accomplished the greatest work in the Old Testament. In fact, it was Moses’ own deficiencies that drove him into a face-to-face relationship with God.

This pattern has been exhibited in the lives of millions of divinely called leaders. George Muller, Dwight Moody, A.W. Tozer and many others would never measure up to today’s business models of leadership. Yet God accomplished miraculous things through them. Their weaknesses and deficiencies repeatedly drove them into God’s arms. They, like Paul the apostle, learned to “glory” in their weaknesses, so that the power of Christ might rest upon them (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, into Your almighty and skilled hands I commit myself and my future. Please take the raw material – and the broken pieces – of my life and fashion me into the person of Your dreams. Take me, O God, and use me for anything You choose me to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



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