Sometimes it's what you least expect that will knock you out. Just ask Victor Ortiz. Recently, he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr in a much anticipated boxing title match. Nobody would have ever guessed how it ended.
In the fourth round, after Victor Ortiz was reprimanded for purposefully head-butting Floyd Mayweather Jr, the fight ended in the most unusual ways. Once the ref separated the fighters after the infraction, apparently Ortiz wasn't quite ready yet, but Mayweather didn't care. He hit him with a 1-2 punch that put Ortiz on the ground.
If you ask Ortiz, I'm sure he would tell you he trained for months. He watched film on Mayweather. He had sparring partners, was on a strict diet, and trained tirelessly. But none of that came into play the way the fight ended. He was simply surprised by two punches he didn't expect.
I can't help but see the similarities for us as leaders in ministry. I've heard of all the ministry leaders that have fallen into sexual sin. Their stories have been all over the front page of the newspapers. Because of this, I've "trained" to fight this temptation, and have set up a "diet" of sorts in the way I live. I'm never alone with a girl, I ask everyone around me to watch me for accountability, and anything I type to people can be reviewed by my wife.
I recently spent some time with Reggie McNeal. He's an author, speaker and leadership strategist. He taught a session to a group of ministry leaders that I thought was dead on. It was about the 4 D's that kill leaders. They are:
1. Discouragement - As a leader, we are fully aware that people are constantly watching us. They look to us for advice, and expect us to have it all together. The truth is, we don't. And knowing that we don't, it's easy to get discouraged. We compare ourselves to others, and somehow very rarely match up.
Speaking personally, I find it hard to be brutally honest with people. I'd like to tell them when I am discouraged, but I don't really know what to say. I mean, what do I really expect from them? This type of emotional constipation can become dangerous.
2. Debilitation - This is what some would call, "death by a thousand cuts." It is being prolonged with trivial things. It is that daily grind that eventually wears you out. Some leaders are quite honestly paying too much rent, or too high of a mortgage. Because of this, they stay in a job somewhere they hate, because they can't see a way out. So they stay, and slowly their soul begins to wither.
3. Distraction - It's easy to get busy with good things. I mean, this is what Jesus did, right? Or did he?
In Mark 1, we see this rare picture of Jesus. Jesus had been healing many. I imagine there were many more eagerly waiting for Him to do something miraculous. In vs. 35, it says that Jesus retreated to a place alone. When Simon and others finally found him, they said, "Everyone is looking for you."
Jesus replied, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." It sure stinks to be that leper who was runner-up, just missing healing by one person. But Jesus had a view of this that is much higher than ours. He knew the mission he was on, and he wouldn't be distracted in the process.
4. Desolation - (I couldn't remember Reggie's fourth point, so I'm adding my own.) We leaders find ourselves alone far too often that we'd like to admit. I read a stat recently that over 80% of pastors admit they don't have a close friend. That's not close friendS, but A close friend. One. Nobody.
We weren't created to live on an island. When we find ourself on one, it's time to figure out a way off, or invite someone on it with us.
As I said earlier, we might be training so hard for the big fight, that we underestimate the power of these subtle issues in our lives. Do you? If so, what are you going to do about it?
Do you relate?
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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