SIDEBAR: How To Keep Your Leaders From Losing Heart

by Scott Hagan

“Let us not lose heart in doing good” (Galatians 6:9, NASB). For a leader, losing heart is a painful way to die. The slow bleed of passion and the desire to serve constitutes this idea of losing heart. Without intervention, this is a sure-fire way to bring that leader to the point of no return. Finding leaders with heart is like finding gold. They possess the skills, character, and willingness to serve. In fact, they are so effective a pastor tends to take his eyes off of them and focus on more needy leaders. Because the loss of heart can be a slow process, often a pastor does not notice that it is even happening to one of his key leaders.

Three Reasons Why a Leader Loses Heart

1. There is no place to debrief failure.

Not every idea works. Not every vision comes to pass. Truth be told, the church is a place of experimentation. Sometimes people are involved in a bad idea and the time comes to cut their loses. Those who volunteer in the church often pour themselves into an idea; then, when it goes awry, they are left to interpret everything on their own. Pastors tend to move on quickly from bad ideas, but often leave their leaders in the dark as to what actually happened. Without a place to debrief and offer ideas for improvement, a leader starts to lose heart. Volunteer leaders do not expect perfection, but they do desire to be kept in the loop and be asked for feedback.

2. There are long periods of isolation.

Everyone needs to be around positive, optimistic, and exciting people. We all feed off the faith and enthusiasm of others. People do not serve because the assignment is so compelling. People serve because it brings them into contact with other like-minded leaders. Leaving your leaders isolated from other life-giving people is a huge mistake. It is also a huge mistake for a pastor to think the vision is enough to keep people happy and motivated. A smart question to ask leaders is, “Do you enjoy serving with the other people in this area?” If they are slow to respond, the loss of heart is inevitable. A wise pastor keeps his leaders part of an exciting leadership community. He creates those places where they can constantly rub against the shoulders and hearts of other leaders who are just like them.

3. There is the total absence of encouragement.

Hearing that you are loved. Hearing that you are valued. Hearing that you are doing a great job and touching lives means the world to any leader. Encouragement is a direct pipeline to the heart. If a pastor wants to see his leaders living with an enlarged heart, he must find a way to bless them continually with words of encouragement. Whether it is a written note, a personal text, a public recognition, a personal dinner, a pastor must have a consistent way of speaking life and encouragement to all of his leaders, not just the ones in prominent roles or with a long history of personal friendship. A leader must never be left guessing, wondering how his pastor feels about him. The demands of leadership at any level are great. No one, not even the most successful pastor, can thrive for any period of time without someone along the way speaking life over him.