Pastor and Christian Leadership Resources

You Can Provide Clean Water to Persecuted Christians

10 Hidden Traps That Trip Pastors

  • Rick Whitter Director of International Orphan Support
  • 2017 19 Jun
10 Hidden Traps That Trip Pastors

Through the years, I have come across more than one leader who was stranded on the side of the road, leg entangled in an ugly trap. They were hurt and bleeding, and their leadership was sidelined. I have listed a few of these hidden traps and have given some advice about how to avoid them. Honestly, I have some scars from being caught in a few of these snares. Maybe I can help you to go around some of these:

Pleasing People

Don’t ever believe that you can make people happy, that you are responsible for the fulfillment of others, or that they can count on you to make life work for them. It’s not true, and trying to do so will only destroy your effectiveness as a leader. It’s okay if not everyone likes you. In fact, unless someone is currently ticked at you, you probably aren’t doing a very good job leading.

Answering to Only One Person

All of us need to be accountable but we need to give account to a multiplicity of people. Submitting to any one person alone creates unhealthy dependencies. Obviously, we all bow to the Father.

Messiah Complex

Unless you can walk on water, you are not Jesus. You are not indispensable. Don’t forget it.

Special Interest Groups

People with an agenda tend to want to force that agenda on you. Don’t let it happen. Stay clear of manipulators who try to attach your name/reputation to their cause.

Tolerating Disloyalty Because of Talent

If a person is not loyal to you, they will cause you more harm than good—end of story. It doesn’t matter if they have mad skills; they will submarine you and you will regret trusting them.

Not Reading

Busy leaders have to make time to feed their minds. The least productive times in my life were the ones when I was too busy or too lazy to read. Keep a good book close by and read it.


Weary leaders often fall to the low level of cynic. Past defeats, let-downs, and disappointments with people can bring about a skepticism that becomes cancerous to leaders. Stay fresh, take a break, and keep your heart soft. Cynicism will destroy you.

Large Donors

Don’t ever be under the control of large contributors. Once they have too much influence over you, they are driving, and you are merely a passenger.

An Undisciplined Schedule

Empty spaces on the to-do list creates stagnation for leaders. Busyness for the sake of busyness is silly, but a blank calendar is the devil‘s playground. Schedule productive activities. Because I appreciate symmetry (and am a bit OCD), I can’t end on the number 9, so here’s one more:

Giving out More Than You Take In

Some leaders seem to have an endless supply of energy, enthusiasm, and passion. Even these super-leaders have to take time to feed themselves. If you fail to do this, you will find yourself depleted and weak. Take the time to do something for yourself—those you lead will be glad, and you will be more effective. Keep these things in mind. Stay out of the traps. Lead strong!

Rick Whitter is the State Administrative Bishop for the Church of God in Minnesota. He also serves as Director of International Orphan Support (

Publication date: June 19, 2017

Image Courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Elenathewise