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Home » Staff/Volunteer Leadership

Authentic Leadership

Submitted by James Higginbotham on April 6, 2010 – 4:34 am3 Comments

I’ve been noticing a trend with church leaders. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t a good one. It is a trend that is turning off volunteers and causing church members to flee from their church. It is a trend of unauthentic leadership.

Our culture allows for a variety of opportunities for unauthentic encounters. From celebrities that “put on a show” for quickie interviews to newspapers and 24 hour news stations that claim they are investigative but do nothing more than report from popular news wires, we all experience way too many unauthentic people.

These unauthentic encounters are burning me out, and they are burning out your volunteers. So, when they show up on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night to serve your church, they expect something different. They expect to encounter the light and hope of God through each of us. They expect to encounter authentic leadership.

This means that if you try to be a leader you are not, they will know it. They will know you are “putting on a show” just like the celebrities whose stories are filling the evening news.

Going beyond “putting on a show”, you are also preventing God from using the uniqueness He formed in you to be the kind of leader he wants you to be. He didn’t design you to mimic a popular leader or pastor from another church. He built you to be, well, you.

It is time to stop putting on a show and be ourselves. It is time to lead by example, be authentic, and expect authenticity from others in our church.

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  • Tim says:


    Thanks for this post. I have no doubt that there is a great deal of inauthentic leadership in our churches. Unfortunately, there are also a great deal of broken leaders trying to hold things together in their own (failing) strength. We don’t do a good job of holding leaders accountable or helping them care for their souls. We often assume it “just happens”.

    As a staff member, I would like to hear you unpack your thoughts a bit. How do you see this lack of authenticity manifesting itself in our leaders? What does it look like? How do you know? What are your thoughts on changing a leadership culture that lifts up infallibility and frowns upon our need for grace?

    Thank you for your heart for ministry!

  • Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your comment. I think you hit my exact point – there are leaders and staff members that are living in their own world, assuming that leaders have it “all together” but fail to see that their church leaders are hurting. They fail to see that all their volunteers want is someone to understand their daily struggles, to pray with them, and to support them. Instead, what they see are staff and volunteer leaders that push them with more tasks, more progress, more “stuff” – this isn’t healthy.

    How do we address this? The first thing is to stop trying to be something you are not. God put together their local church body for a specific reason, but they often fail to see it because it might look different than other churches around them. We need to stop trying to be like the church leaders that get all of the press and start being the leaders we were designed by God to become.

    The second is to ensure every leader is a disciple of Jesus first, making disciples second, and being a leader third. They need to demonstrate first hand the need to be on our knees and seeking God’s calling as individuals and as a church. It is through His disciples that Jesus will call out leaders, not programs and “base paths”. We often get it backwards because we focus too much on church operations than on spiritual growth. It is time to change.

  • [...] week, I wrote about Authentic Leadership and how I thought some church leaders are failing to be authentic with their volunteer teams. Tim [...]