Chuck Swindoll on Pastoral Leadership

Chuck Swindoll, when accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at Catalyst 09, offered 10 Leadership Lessons Learned in 50 Years of Leadership :

1. It’s lonely to lead.  Leadership involves tough decisions.  The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2. It’s dangerous to succeed.  I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.

3. It’s hardest at home.  No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4. It’s essential to be real.  If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders.  Stay real.

5. It’s painful to obey.  The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice.  Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6. Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7. Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8. Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.

9. God’s way is better than my way.

10. Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

HT: Justin Taylor


most of these points resonate with me.  one that is challenging me the most is #8 because I am so not about image, I see myself as almost the complete opposite of “the hip pastor.”  more importantly is the heart and its willingness to be made willing and shaped into the image of the Chief Shepherd. 

anyways, I hope a lot of younger / newer pastors see this list by Chuck Swindoll (its on several blogs) and take the lessons to heart – now is the time to receive and learn, not later.  work on “getting it” now, not when it is too late.

4 responses to “Chuck Swindoll on Pastoral Leadership

  1. I resonate with this list, too. I do wonder about no. 1, though. Not that I haven’t experienced it necessarily, but does leadership need to be lonely? If he means loneliness as a necessity, does this assume a kind of top down management style instead of a collaborative one?

    • Will,

      Sometimes it is the team that does not want to follow God’s Word. This is when leadership gets lonely. When your collaborative effort yields to the approval of men rather than God, one must remain a bond-servant of Christ. I think that this is what Charles means. I am learning this currently, and this list has been an encouragement and I am grateful for the admonition of Swindoll.

  2. yeah, this is probably better fit for a more pastor-driven model than an plurality of elders one. So, yes, when there is only one pastor who is leading, yeah, it can get lonely….

  3. I’ve learned so much from Chuck over the years. I remember listening to a sermon of his, where he gave an advice to young pastors: “Stay away from the church money.”

    That has stuck with me.

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