Very rarely does success come from jumping from one venture to another every few years.
And very rarely does long term impact happen from short term tenure.
And yet in ministry and in life, people often jump from venture to venture or church to church hoping the next fit is better than the last fit, only to be perpetually disappointed.
Many Leaders Leave Before Their Critical Breakthrough
In my view too many leaders leave too often before critical breakthroughs happen.
Most people who become ‘overnight’ successes have put in a decade or more before anything really note-worthy has happened.
I’m not saying leaders should never leave. In fact, here’s a post outlining 5 signs it’s time to move on.
It’s just if you go too early, you can miss out on so much.
5 Things Long Term Leaders Learn to Master
Here are 5 things every leader who stays long term learns to master:
1. Being unpopular
Long term leadership has seasons, and in some of those seasons you become unpopular.
Sometimes it’s a sign you need to work on something. So work on it.
But other times it’s because you’re committed to doing what people need, not simply what they want. That’s what great leaders do.
So sometimes you just have to be prepared to be misunderstood.
There are very few biblical characters who were ever perfectly understood.
Eventually, people will see what you were trying to do. Hang around long enough to let them see it.
Even if they never do, God does. Regardless, learning to withstand seasons of unpopularity builds your character and often is the key to getting important things done in leadership.
2. Personal growth
It’s easy to change an organization (at least at first), it’s much more difficult to change you.
To thrive long term you have to be relentlessly committed to personal growth.
Face your demons. Learn from your mistakes. And get the help you need to grow and get better.
3. Trusting God more than themselves
The change you can bring happens quickly.
Most of us are skilled enough to look good for a season and change things enough to bring progress.
But then we run out of ideas.
The change (transformation even) that God brings happens over time.
To sustain a long term vision for ministry requires a growing faith and trust in God.
4. The character to withstand highs and lows
A great season doesn’t mean you’re great.
And a terrible season doesn’t mean you’re terrible.
You’re never as great as your best moment and never as terrible as your worst.
Long term leaders learn not to ride the highs too high or the lows too low.
They learn from each season while anticipating the next.
5. Developing trusted inner circle
Most long term leaders I know have a circle of people who love them, are genuine friends and tell them the truth. These are the people who keep you grounded.
Quitters are often isolated.
It’s easier to pick people off one by one than in strong teams and groups.
If you want a few tips on how to develop an excellent inner circle, I blogged about it here.
Once again, it’s not that you should never leave, it’s just that you should never leave for the wrong reasons.
What has kept you in the game over the longer haul?
What skills have you mastered because you decided to stay?
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