Here’s a fact every leader must face: leadership is a fight. Yes, the leader will enjoy positive experiences and wonderful people, but meanwhile he will be forced to tackle one battle after another. Here are six fights you must face when you step into the ring of leadership.

1. Fight for mission over minutia.

The list of trivial concerns is endless. Of course, no item in this collection seems insignificant to those mentioning it. They really do believe the color of the carpet, the lighting in the auditorium, or the snacks served to preschoolers are Big Deals.

But leaders know that focusing on minutia pushes mission out of sight. (You’ve heard about missing the forest while concentrating on the trees.)

A minister I know confronted a lady complaining because the screen in the auditorium was covering up the windows behind it. It was part of the stage set for a weekend youth conference that had attracted hundreds of teenagers.

As pleasantly as possible, he asked her, “When did it become about stained glass for you?” She left in a huff but called two weeks later to apologize. She had come to see that the mission, pointing those students to Jesus, was far more important than her preference.

Seeing the big picture beyond the daily details is a challenge for every parent, every middle manager, every committee chairman—and most certainly for every church leader. We must fight for it.


2. Fight for bringing value to every team member.

I’m glad every leader I’ve worked for has told me, “We want you to be you.” I know I’m an odd duck, but these men always said, “We don’t need you to be someone else. We need you to be you.”

Here’s what they taught me: my goal as a leader is to help the co-workers around me to be their best “them.” And this is true for the person who cleans the baptistery as well as the chairman of the elders. Every team member has value. My job is to fight for them and those around them to see it.


3. Fight for reaching the lost over pleasing self.

Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Luke 9:23).

We know self is the real issue when church members push for their way instead of following their leaders. But self can cause those leaders to stumble too.

I think about the ministers in comfortable situations: decent salary, nice town, good schools, wife loves her job. If he doesn’t make waves, he can stay at this church for a long time. But will his church do its best to reach the lost without making some difficult changes?

My favorite verse says, “Save others by snatching them from the fire” (Jude 23). Sometimes that will be hard or hot or unpleasant. If we don’t fight for putting lost people first, our tendency to prefer personal pleasure will always get in the way.



4. Fight for asking the right questions to the right persons with the right motives.

When someone complains to me about a decision some other leader made, my first question is, “Did you talk to him (or her) about this?”

Here’s the gut check for church critics: Is your motive to further the mission or to get your own way? Here’s the policy for church leaders: Don’t allow critics to recruit you for their cause.

This goes hand-in-hand with the first point, above, and the next one, below.


5. Fight for facts over feelings.

Resist the tendency for disagreements to become emotional or personal. Make sure the critic has all the facts possible.

Years ago a church member appeared in my office with a bunch of grievances based on assumptions that just weren’t true. I happened to know she had been circulating a petition she intended to present to church leaders with her list of complaints.

I listened awhile and then presented her with the facts. “I didn’t know that,” she said. “Oh, I didn’t realize that,” she said, again and again.

Then I told her I’d heard about a petition being circulated.

“Hmmm,” she replied. “I think I can take care of that.”

And she did.


6. Fight for daily attention to your relationship with Jesus.

It sounds obvious. “Put on your own mask before tending to the child beside you.” But I know I can’t handle any of the other five battles if I’m not nurturing my relationship with Christ.

And I know no other fight matters if I fail to stay close to him.

What are some other things you think leaders should fight for?