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How to Know If You’re a Disconnected Leader

A smart phone without wireless or Internet service isn’t very helpful. It gives the appearance of being useful, only to leave its user feeling frustrated and disconnected.

Disconnected leaders are like that.

We become disconnected when we get sucked into the trap of self-sufficiency or unhealthy dependence on the latest ministry model or resource. We see successful leaders around us, so we know how to mimic what we see but the power to lead escapes us.

Our programs keep our schedules full of leadership activities. We say leadership sorts of words and phrases. We read leadership books, attend leadership conferences, and pursue leadership degrees. Disconnected leaders feel hollow and they have the nagging feeling that everyone knows it.

We seem to forget that without a current connection to the Word of God that our ministry lacks transforming power because the Lord uses His word and His Spirit to change hearts. The truth is this: Yesterday’s power won’t win today’s victories.

If you are like me, the truth of disconnected leadership hits too close to home. I often operate like a high-octane powerboat with my hand on the throttle instead of a sailboat navigating the Spirit-produced winds of God’s activity all around me.

As leaders, we can recalibrate our leadership connection by reading and deeply reflecting on passages like Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Psalm 33:16-22.

What are the signs that you maybe a disconnected leader? Here are seven:

  1. You have no margin in your life. You get so busy doing the work of God around you that you ignore the work of God within you. You don’t schedule time to guard your heart. You don’t take time to be still and know that He is God. Prayerlessness becomes your pattern.
  2. You act like you are bullet proof. Who is praying for you? Who have you asked? We all need intercessors who know and undergird our ministry on a regular basis.
  3. You are willing to burnout for God. That sounds noble, but it is not what Jesus modeled. Certainly there are busy seasons of ministry where we push hard to accomplish important things. There are also times when it is necessary to take adequate time to get much-needed rest and refreshment physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  4. You keep the Holy Spirit on the bench. On the way back to the Father, Jesus reminded His followers of the importance of the Holy Spirit in their lives (see John 14-16). Remember the role of the Holy Spirit. He reminds us of the teachings of Jesus. He speaks words of conviction, comfort, righteousness, and wisdom to us. Simply put: the Holy Spirit and the Word are primary ways we hear from God.
  5. You make plans and ask God to bless them. When we are consumed with maintaining our personal agenda, we will not clearly hear the voice of God. Self-sufficiency with our own plans kills our hunger to hear from God. When we ask God to bless our plans we make the assumption there’s no more God wants to do beyond where we are.
  6. You stop being willing to learn because you are the leader. Leaders who stop learning develop a tunnel vision that makes them think they have all the answers. Leaders who won’t learn start looking and behaving like the Pharisees. They were preoccupied with keeping the religious program running, and they missed God walking among them. God calls us to cultivate a living relationship with Him at all costs.
  7. You are comfortable with unconfessed sin in your life. The psalmist said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps. 66:18).When we manage our sin instead of confessing it and rejecting it, it drowns out God’s voice in our lives.

When any of these things begin to happen, I think of it as a warning sign that my leadership is becoming disconnected—I am moving from a place of dependence on the Father to a place where my leadership might harm others or myself.

What other warning signs do you see that causes you to be a disconnected leader?

How have you seen disconnected leadership hurt you or people you care about?

Lead Missional Strategist

Bob Bumgarner