As a leader, you will face many challenges. However, to make matters a bit worse there are traps that have been laid out that are common to all leaders, especially those leading a team or organization. These traps expose leadership weaknesses that we too often fall into. Lucky for us, these traps are actually well documented from the story of King David’s reign.
The man after God’s own heart. The man with such faith in God, he killed Goliath. The king who had faith even when he was running for his life. The king that wrote Psalms and was likely the greatest king in Israel’s history. However, despite all of those accolades, David still succumbed to these traps!
Trap #1: Loss of Vision
In the spring, when kings go off to war, David stayed home. From the text, it’s clear that a king’s responsibility was to be with his troops. In fact, kings had seasonal responsibilities which included time for a vacation. Not only was he not where he should have been, he was choosing to do things out of season. King David lost his vision for the kingdom.
There are seasons of rest. However, if we’re not vigilant, we can become like David. If we let go of the good habits that keep us faithful, we can lose it all. The more success you have, the more you need to constantly be checking your heart and your nearness to God. As success grows, so do the opportunities to lose it all and worse, to lose things you cannot recover from.
A loss of vision is a common leadership weakness; however, it doesn’t have to be.
As a leader, one component of your job is to cast a vision for the company. If there isn’t a clear vision, the product of the work doesn’t live up to the potential. If there is no vision, the employees don’t engage with each other or with customers. Vision is so crucial, but you can easily lose it when you’ve achieved a major breakthrough or if you’re burned out.
It’s in these seasons of success and rest that we can lose sight of what we’re called to do. The Bible warns of this. When there is no revelation from God, and when we don’t see clearly what our mission is, we become unrestrained. We are walking in a fog, without a view of the destination or the boundaries. God’s Word isn’t there to take away our fun. It’s quite the opposite. God’s Word is there to protect us from the consequence of poor choices and to illuminate the path that will bring us the greatest satisfaction.
Trap #2: Isolation
Successful people tend to become isolated. In the beginning, it’s not their own doing. Isolation starts with maybe short goal-driven interactions leaving little room for relationship growth with peers. Every successful person I’ve met will attest to the hard work and dedication. Often when they use the word sacrifice, they are thinking of the relationships that might have been sacrificed at the altar of their success.
Few are more isolated than political leaders. As king, David could have you killed. He could take your daughter as his wife. He could ask you to dine with him in the palace. With this much power, subjects and even confidants had to choose their words wisely around him. Authentic relationships were few and far between.
When you start a business, you immediately create a boss-to-employee relationship as you hire. You might not have intended it to happen. You might do things like call someone a partner. However, unless you are giving them ownership that could overturn your voice, you’re still the boss. This leader-to-follower relationship doesn’t only happen with founders of companies. It can happen with managers and even with family members.
When you control someone else’s time or their ability to make income, you have a modicum of influence over that person. It creates a wall for those you are in a relationship with. It becomes your responsibility then to be humble enough to receive their input as well as to be vigilant enough to see authenticity and transparency in your communication.
This is why a board of directors can be helpful for businesses, and why small groups are a must for any kingdom driven leader. Having a small group of believers to do life with can often be the one thing that keeps you from acting on the impulses or exercising the freedom and power at your fingertips.
Trap #3: False Sense of Control
Our walk is one where God does things for us and through us. As we reach what the world would consider being a success, we can often lose sight of that fact during the journey. We can fail to recognize that it was God who opened the door, and it was God who delivered the success.
The sense that what you do and say can influence the outcome certainly feels like control. It’s just enough of a taste of control that it drives us to want more.
David’s plans go awry when he encounters a man, Bathsheba’s husband, who has more character than he does at that moment. He senses the complete loss of control of the situation and grabs hold of what he knows he can control. His people. He knew his generals would never question an order even if it seemed out of place.
This trap is one I routinely stick my foot in. As a driven entrepreneur, I tend to want to conquer goals and charge ahead. Yet, I can do nothing and am nothing without God. Why is it so easy to run ahead without Him? This is the ultimate test. Can I be humble, and am I willing to sacrifice my dreams and my goals for His?
Disarm the Traps
Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.Philippians 3:15-21 MSG
If David, a good king and a man after God’s own heart could fall, then any of us could fall too. Although some of these traps are more common in leadership, they are everywhere, and it’s important to be aware of them.
The way to disarm these traps is in your pursuit of your relationship with Christ.
You must be intentional in your preparation to lead. This maintaining of your vision is absolutely crucial for you to take territory for God’s kingdom through Christ’s power and authority. If this sounds intense, it is! It’s this focused intensity and intentionality that will keep you from the traps.