Chuck Swindoll's 10 Lifetime Leadership Lessons
The popular Bible teacher and chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary lists what he's learned about leadership.

Chuck Swindoll was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at Catalyst 09, and spoke on "10 Things I Have Learned During Nearly 50 Years in Leadership":

1) It's lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2) It's dangerous to succeed. I'm most concerned for those who aren't even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed

3) It's hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4) It's essential to be real. If there's one realm where phoniness is common, it's among leaders. Stay real.

5) It's painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won't be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7) Attititude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8) Integrity eclipse image. Today we highlight image. But it's what you're doing behind the scenes.

9) God's way is better than my way.

10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

Which of these lessons strikes you most? Why?

If you were to add an 11th lesson, what would it be?

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October 09, 2009

Displaying 1–10 of 11 comments


November 15, 2010  4:58pm

This list reminds me of many of the aspects of leadership I am learning in my Foundations of Leadership class. This first one really strikes me because I remember my paster saying that very same thing this past summer in my internship. Being young and inexperienced, I have yet to fully realize what that means, but it has stuck with me for some time. If I were to add an 11th one, I would say it is crucial to develop a prayer base, a group of people where you can just be real and and gain accountability. That way when it gets lonely at the top, you are reminded that you are never truely alone.

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October 24, 2010  9:43pm

8) Integrity eclipse image. Today we highlight image. But it's what you're doing behind the scenes. We have been talking about this in my Leadership class. Integrity is vital to leadership. It doesn't matter how good of a communicator or preacher you, if you lack integrity you are doomed to fail. 11) If you are calling someone to follow you must live a life worth following. If you are calling people to be courageous you better have courage. If you are calling people to humility you better be humble. If you aren't living the way you are preaching then how can you expect someone to follow you?

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September 14, 2010  10:42pm

I was told once by a pastor, "Don't even think about trying to enter the ministry unless you believe it is your calling" (my paraphrase). This list is further evidence of that sentiment. I have recently been learning more and more that leadership in ministry is not about me. At all. I think that is why the points that hit home with me the most were: #1) It's lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is. #6) Brokenness and failure are necessary. #10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility. I don't want to be lonely, especially when making tough decisions, I don't like being broken or failing, and humility is especially challenging when I am put in a leadership role. I am trusting that God will give me strength to keep trusting him as I learn these hard lessons in the future.

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Thrainn Kristjansson

October 24, 2009  6:35am

This is the kind of stuff you would expect to come from Charles Swindall. I believe, Swindall will go down in history as one of the finest preachers of the Word of God.

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David Buffaloe

October 17, 2009  7:31pm

I might add - relax and enjoy the journey. Glorify God. It's all about Him, not about us. Too many pastors are Church hopping, trying to get a bigger congregation. Relax, and let God work through the preaching of His Word.

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Derek Iannelli-Smith

October 17, 2009  7:57am

6,7, and 10 thump me pretty good and regularly. This was a good list... Kinda reminds me of Hanz Finzel list... thanks for this...

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Saleem Mathew

October 16, 2009  2:05pm

11th Lesson is Leadership is what you act and not what you speak

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Steve Grove

October 16, 2009  11:20am

They're all good... and not so new or groundbreaking. We know it all,we just have to live it all.

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October 13, 2009  11:52pm

The one that strikes me the most is that leadership is lonely. Recently I discovered why I dislike leading - because it's an unselfish position. It's not a place for me to voice my opinions and share my thoughts the way I would otherwise, it is a place to facilitate, to pour into others what I would like to receive. Ugh. So hard. I'm willing to learn though .. just will need time :) I guess if I had to add an 11th lesson it would be that leadership is selfless service.

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Jason Byassee

October 09, 2009  1:12pm

I am struck also by #6 especially. Chris Heuertz of Word Made Flesh talks about "failing forward" as his MO in leadership–the mission organization is constantly falling into the arms of Christ's mercy, and only so serves its friends who are poor. Check out my profile of Heuertz when it drops next Tuesday at

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