Have you ever been a part of an organization where the leadership was questionable? It is said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Those in leadership knows what it is like to feel the weight of responsibility. We’ve all questioned and criticized leadership. There is something in our nature that causes us to buck against those who are ‘over’ us. It is one thing to disagree with leadership, it is one thing for leadership to carry a heavy load, however, it is another thing when there is failed leadership. I have seen some good leaders. I have also seen some bad leaders. Someone may not be the best leader, but that does not mean they are a failed leader. In Genesis 19 we peer into the life of Lot and we see characteristics of failed leader.
Sits in the wrong place (v. 1). Lot is seen sitting in the gate of Sodom. The city of Sodom is very wicked. It is known for its sexual immorality, especially homosexuality. God is about to destroy the city because it is so wicked. Lot is sitting in the gate. The gate is the center of public activity. This is the place where everyone met. Some believe that Lot was a judge in the city and that is why he was sitting in the gate. If this is the case, not only was Lot in the midst of all the wickedness, but as a town official, he was a part of all the wickedness. Lot was in the wrong place. There is a principle of leadership that I have always believed in. That principle says this: those you lead will always be a step below you. In other words, they will not surpass the leader that they are following. Therefore, the leader’s standards is a measuring stick for the standards of the people. With Lot as a leader, and the city of Sodom being so very wicked, what does that say about the life of Lot? A failed leader is one who loses control because they themselves are a part of the problem.
Compromises with the world (v.7-8). Lot tries to negotiate with the men of Sodom. He offers them his daughters in exchange for their restraint from harming his visitors. It has always been the policy of the United States of America, that we do not negotiate with terrorist. The policy of a good leader is that you never negotiate with the world. The problem with a lot of churches and other organizations today, is that the leaders have compromised with the world. For example, we put out a survey asking the world questions concerning the church. Now, I have nothing against surveys, but think about it. We ask the lost world around us what they would like to see in the church. We then take their responses and change the way we do things in order to adapt to the demands of the world. The world says, we don’t like to hear hell fire preaching. The world says, there should be less preaching on sin and the need for salvation, and more benevolent type ministries. The world says, we should abandon the old hymns of the faith and provide music that entertains rather than edifies. The world says, we should be more causal and dress more like them. The world says, we should make our churches more like coffee shops than places of worship. Sadly, many church leaders have looked to the world for instruction as to how they should lead the church, rather than looking to the Word of God. Now, we have churches that look more like social clubs than places of worship. We have pastor’s that dress like rock stars, rather than as godly men. We have more singing and entertainment and less preaching. Some pastor’s do not even carry a Bible in the pulpit. This, my friend, is failed leadership. When we look to the world for how we should live our lives and structure our churches, we are in serious trouble.
Not respected (v. 9). The people of Sodom had no respect for Lot. We need to understand that respect is something that is earned not demanded. How does a leader earn respect? To find the answer I took to Facebook to see what others would say. Here are a few of those responses:
- By doing what is right even if it is unpopular.
- Having a calm demeanor.
- Selecting words wisely.
- Responds to criticism with love.
- Willing to serve in the trenches as a servant.
- Practicing what you preach.
- Being real.
- Taking time to know those you are leading.
- Being a good listener.
- By being in love with the Lord.
Lot did not earn the respect of the people. They ran all over him. The thing that led to such disrespect was Lot’s compromise with and involvement in the wickedness of Sodom. They did not respect him, because he was no different than they.
Has no influence (v. 14). Lot tried to warn his sons in law. But, they would not listen. Lot had no influence whatsoever. You know a leader has failed when his influence is non-existent. A leader is one who influences others. Even a bad leader influences other’s. Lot had no influence. A failed leader is one who loses all influence. In the pastorate, the question is often asked as to how long a pastor should stay in a church. One rule of thumb is that you take the church as far as you can. If there comes a time when the people no longer follow you and if your influence means nothing, then it may be time to move on.
Procrastinates (v. 15-17). Lot procrastinated even when it came to fleeing the city that God is about to destroy. Procrastination is one of the major downfalls of a leader. When you start putting things off, you will eventually lose all respect and influence. You cannot just kick the can down the road. When there are issues that need to be dealt with, it must be dealt with immediately. This not only applies to dealing with issues that a leader must face, but it also applies to his daily routine and the small things. A leader cannot procrastinate on preparation time. A good leader is always on time. A good leader never waits until the last minute for anything.
Seeks personal comfort (v. 17-20). Lot did not want to go to the mountain. He wanted to go to a place that was comfortable for him. A failed leader is all about personal comfort. A poor leader is one who seeks to do only what benefits himself. He does not deal with the hard stuff. He takes the easy road. A good leader, on the other hand, never backs away from a challenge. When things get a little rough, he steps up to the plate and keeps on swinging. Good leadership is not about being comfortable in your role as a leader. Personal comfort is something that most leaders must sacrifice in order to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. In order to lead an organization to where it needs to be, it often times takes initial set-backs. It takes personal sacrifice, sweat, blood, and tears. Its not about what is best for the leader, it’s about was is best for those they lead and for the organization as a whole. There have been times when I have had to make decisions that put me in a very uncomfortable position. There are times when a leader must sacrifice present day comforts in order to build for the future. A failed leader is one who does what is most comfortable in the moment with no regard for what they are building for the future.
Neglects to nurture family (v. 26 & 30-38). The troubling things that occurred in Lot’s family came as a result of his lack of leadership. A successful leader is one who leads his family. If you do not have the respect of your family, you will never earn the respect of those you lead. You cannot lead in any other area of life, including in the church, if you do not first take care of your family.
In verse 29, we see the grace of God. Lot was saved, not because he deserved it, but because of the intercession of Abraham. God remembered Abraham and He saved Lot. If it were not for Abraham, Lot would not have been saved. Here we see the contrast between great leadership and failed leadership. As Abraham, a great leader is a great intercessor. He is one who cares. A failed leader only looks out for himself, as did Lot. What kind of leader are you?