A point of concern among many evangelicals today is the need for more and better leaders in our ranks. Many congregations and denominations find their progress retarded not because they are unwilling to move ahead but because they do not have enough qualified people to fill leadership positions. And outside the churches the problem is more acute; in various disciplines the voice of committed evangelicals is not heard at all. While we seek to preach the Gospel to the masses, we discover that agnostics, secularists, and skeptics still dominate the places where the minds of the masses are being shaped; it is they who are editing the newspapers and magazines, writing the plays, producing the films, and teaching in the schools.
There are factors in evangelical homes, schools, and churches that contribute to this leadership lack. I want to discuss three of them.
The first is over-protection. Whether physical, psychological, or spiritual, this stifling ghost haunts many Christians. We tend to confuse legitimate love and concern with a “mother hen” approach to the developmental process. A father who argues with the Little League umpire to “protect my kid,” a pastor who seeks to solve all the new convert’s problems for him “so he won’t get discouraged”—both are hindrances to the goal of developing leaders.
We find it difficult to give others—especially our children—the freedom God has given them, the freedom to succeed or fail on their own. Jay Kesler has put it well in his book Let’s Succeed With Our Teenagers. Doing bad, he says, is an option for every human being, “even … our child. This is hard to accept. We would like to influence him to choose ...1
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