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Leader's Insight: Yes, Ministry Leadership Is Complex

When business people offer free advice, we should say, "It's not that easy."

My friend runs a company with about 3,000 employees. He says he wants to relax after retirement and lead a church. He said, "It doesn't have to be a Willow Creek-sized church. Maybe just 7,000 or 8,000 with some growth potential." I told him that leading a church would ruin his retirement, because the church demands a higher and more complex form of leadership than business does. In fact, I believe the church is the most leadership-intensive enterprise in society.

I've been on both sides. Running a business is challenging, but the leader of a company has a clearly defined playing field and enormous leverage with his or her employees. The business leader delivers a product or service through paid staff who either get it done or get replaced.

Church leadership is far more complex than that. The redeeming and rebuilding of human lives is exceedingly more difficult than building widgets or delivering predictable services. Here's why:

1. Every life requires a custom mold.

You don't stop the line ...

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