I get challenged about my personal and leadership idols every year when I read through the middle part of the book of Isaiah. Chapter 44, for example, is all about the futility of worshipping idols, which in those days were mostly wood or stone carvings. So what’s an idol today? You don’t need wood or stone to create one.
An idol is anything that takes our focus and reliance off of God. John Calvin was dead on when he said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” Discard one, and you’ll simply create another.
8 Idols Church Leaders Still Worship Today
The list could be much longer than eight, because Calvin was right. But here are eight I struggle with or have seen other leaders struggle with.
So I’m a strategy wonk. If you read this blog, you know that.
I think many churches fail for lack of a clear, coherent strategy. I wrote in detail about how mission, vision and strategy interrelate here.
But strategy is no substitute for trust.
As valuable as strategy is (and it is), no strategy is a substitute for trusting God.
Strategy makes an excellent servant and a terrible master.
By all means, get better at what you do. Learn, listen, polish and perfect your skills.
Skill alone can get you far, but the church is a supernatural thing.
God changes hearts. You can’t. I can’t.
You know what’s better than a skill set? A surrendered skill set.
Having a B-level set of skills that’s surrendered is better than an A-level set of skills you’re trying to use without God.
There is no merit in size.
Some leaders think only bigger is better. But idolizing big can be a thin mask for ego. (Your self-worth rises and falls with big.)
There is no magic to size. Focus on getting healthy, and size will take care of itself.
Or to switch metaphors, pull some weeds, till the soil, plant some seeds and trust God to grow things at the pace and to the size he wants.
I love stats too much.
I watch attendance, baptisms, givings, group participation and volunteer rates like a hawk and then am disappointed if they don’t meet my exaggerated expectations.
I watch my blog and podcast stats too much, and—if I’m not careful—I’ll even allow them to dictate my emotions.
Before you gloat a little, ignoring stats can be another idol.
Being the slacker-who-doesn’t-care/I’m-too-hip-for-that leader can close you off to God as readily as being the leader who rises and falls with the numbers.
Stats tell you things. But they don’t measure your worth. Or God’s faithfulness.
Watch them. But don’t believe they’re a barometer on how awesome (or awful) you might be.
I wish I had a better title for this, but ‘alliances’ simply refers to the group we do ministry with. In some cases, it’s your denomination or a church planting group. Or in my case, as a North Point Strategic Partner, it’s North Point Church.
Alliances are often strategic and helpful. They have been for me. But they are not your savior. It’s tempting to think, “If we join X group, our church would take off.”