As you develop in your leadership, you grow through “leadership lids” that can slow or even prevent your church from growing.

John Maxwell says it this way,

“Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential. The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness.”

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

We all need to grow through our leadership lids, and we can.

Start with this question.

What might be blocking or slowing the growth of your organization?  

There is a long list of possibilities, but wise leaders always start with themselves.

That said, it is important to acknowledge that not all lids are directly connected to the leader’s ability.

For example, the pandemic of this past year that lingers may be a circumstantial lid, at least temporarily.

As leaders, however, we should not accept temporary circumstances as a personal leadership lid. So we press on and figure out a way!

It’s easy to get in our own way and trip over our own fears and insecurities.

The good news is, we don’t have to get stuck in our current level of leadership ability.

From good coaches to good books or sometimes just a cup of coffee with a wise friend, we can break through our leadership lids.

Step one is identifying your lid.

I don’t know what yours might be, but I’ve listed six of the most common here.

6 Common Leadership Lids:

1) When you stop growing. 

One of the surest predictors of an organization that will eventually stop growing is that its leaders stop growing.

Life moves forward, and culture changes; the church today is not the same as it was years ago. We as leaders must continue to grow and get better at our work if we want the church to continue to thrive.

Growth as a leader requires learning and change. How are you growing?

Do you have a plan for growth? A coach? A supervisor that helps you become a better leader?

If yes, you can break through this lid. You can always begin to grow again.

2) When your insecurities rise above your calling and gifting.

Insecurities are common amongst leaders, now perhaps more than ever.

All leaders have insecure moments; that’s very different from being an insecure person.

Of course, there are insecure moments; if you are leading, you are taking people somewhere you and they (together) have never been before. It’s uncharted territory, and you’re not always sure what to do.

But remember, just because you don’t know what to do, that doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. You can figure it out!

Every time you solve another problem or challenge (figure it out), you break through the lid of insecurities, and you develop authentic confidence.

3) When you don’t develop and empower leaders.   

A vision big enough to be worth pursuing requires more leaders to achieve it.

As an organization grows, it becomes more complex and requires more leaders to take it forward.

Developing leaders isn’t complex, but it does require relentless commitment and ongoing intentional effort.

The results are incredibly worthwhile.

If I can be overly candid here, if you are too busy to develop leaders, you are too busy. It’s time to hand off some of your work to others to make sure this happens.

One sure way to breakthrough this leadership lid is to develop more and better leaders on your team.

4) When your people no longer know that you care. 

No longer genuinely caring about the people you serve is unlikely, but here’s how it can seem like you don’t care.

You can become exhausted from solving problems, hurt by so much criticism, overwhelmed by pressure, or struggle with a personal issue – perhaps a family member who is ill.

Any of these can consume so much time and personal energy that you drift in your closeness and connection with those you serve. If this becomes prolonged, it produces an almost imperceptible lid on your leadership.

If you sense a drift from those closest to you, take some time to discern the cause and focus on the remedy. Then, let a few of those closest to you in on what’s going on. A few honest conversations will go a long way.

5) When you stop hearing from God. 

All leaders experience dry periods in their spiritual life when for a season, it seems as if God’s voice is silent.

If a spiritually dry season becomes prolonged, it can become a lid to your leadership, but there is no need to fear this.

God is still with you in spiritually dry times, and you can lean into the wisdom He has already given as well as seek wise counsel from your trusted advisors.

In my experience, a spiritually dry season always comes to an end, and I learn again that God never drifted from me; it was I who needed to draw near to Him.

6) When you don’t have clarity of vision.

This final potential leadership lid pertains mostly to the senior leadership team, but it certainly impacts the entire team and church.

Any time you no longer have a clear vision, your leadership will become a lid to the church’s growth.

Over the past seventeen months, vision has been challenged. We have learned how to cast vision for shorter periods, but it’s still challenging.

If you are unclear about your vision, your best solution is to embrace the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) as your vision until you have clarity for the unique expression of vision for your church.

If you are struggling with vision clarity, a recent post I wrote may be helpful to you.

Another recent post will help with vision momentum.


My prayer is that this list of potential leadership lids will give you ideas for breakthroughs or insights for prevention.