The questions we all are asking: “Hey leader, are you for real?”

Well, if you are a leader in your church over the spiritual care of others, are you for real? Do you represent what you teach, and does your reputation match the real you? Yes, these are painful questions I ask myself. The reason I know I have to ask them is because everyone around me asks them to one degree or another. The honest answer would be, “not really.” I am not that “for real” or at least as much as I should be. Gasp. It’s true. I am selfish and at times do not see the incredible value of the people right in front of me, including at times my very own family. Yeah, I would do anything for the local church. But perhaps that is the problem.

Being “for real” means that what I represent better be backed up by what I do. I have seen others live off of the fumes of spiritual fires long extinguished by trial, burnout, and complacency. They crash. That could be me! The pressure of ministry leadership at times assaults where self-protection, self-preservation and self-absorption tempt a pastor to live in a bunker of his own design where compliments are plenty and challenge is limited. “Emperor, you might not have clothes but what the heck, you got a nice personality on the church platform!”

I do believe that the character I have or you have does matters as a leader. What I also believe is that no one is perfect and the issue is not hiding or running from weaknesses or deficiencies but being savvy enough to see yourself as God sees you, not others who might be too close to make the right call , or yourself who may be afraid to test the pain threshold of God-led self-examination.

The bottom line is that I really want to be “for real” to those I lead. I fail at this, for sure. Yeah, I am human and perhaps at times, people have unrealistic expectations. I am not wanting to people to affirm me and say that I am “for real” as much as I want to moderate their expectations to simply appreciating how my gifting and calling contributes to their lives. I cannot save them, or vicariously live their spiritual lives for them. My role is to clear the path, which means even I might be in the way in a given situation.

Here are some unfinished thoughts I am learning on this journey of leading myself so I can lead others.

  • God-examination is always better than self-examination. Psalm 44:21
  • God is not looking for perfect leaders, he is looking for available leaders. 1 Timothy 1:15
  • People around me might be too close to really call me out. I gotta work on letting people in who speak truth, and in love and who are safe. Ephesians 4:15
  • My calling has to be protected more than my ego. John 3:30
  • Leadership means I give up self-protection, self-preservation, and self-absorption as vices for the greater good of those around me and myself. Luke 9:24
  • God is not finished with me, so buck it up and act like the person I know God wants me to be. If I am right, His strength will come through for me.  Timothy 4:17

Well, are you “for real” or what?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

24 comments

  1. Hey Rich, great post! You are so right! God never said being a leader was going to be easy, but He did choose us and anoint us to serve Him, even when we had reasons to be disqualified. John 15:16 & 1Timothy 1:12-13
    May we always consider Him who loved us first and serve Him who is worthy. Thanks for the point-by-point verse inspection.

    Now you got me thinkin’. Thanks

  2. Hey Rich, great post! You are so right! God never said being a leader was going to be easy, but He did choose us and anoint us to serve Him, even when we had reasons to be disqualified. John 15:16 & 1Timothy 1:12-13
    May we always consider Him who loved us first and serve Him who is worthy. Thanks for the point-by-point verse inspection.

    Now you got me thinkin’. Thanks

  3. Hey Rich, great post! You are so right! God never said being a leader was going to be easy, but He did choose us and anoint us to serve Him, even when we had reasons to be disqualified. John 15:16 & 1Timothy 1:12-13
    May we always consider Him who loved us first and serve Him who is worthy. Thanks for the point-by-point verse inspection.

    Now you got me thinkin’. Thanks

  4. Hey Rich, great post! You are so right! God never said being a leader was going to be easy, but He did choose us and anoint us to serve Him, even when we had reasons to be disqualified. John 15:16 & 1Timothy 1:12-13
    May we always consider Him who loved us first and serve Him who is worthy. Thanks for the point-by-point verse inspection.

    Now you got me thinkin’. Thanks

  5. Rich after 4 years with you I would say you are very REAL!!! not perfect but real. I suggest reading The Handbook To Leadership “Leadership in the image of GOD” by Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell, Bill Perkins. It is a daily study of ALL the great examples of leadership GOD has provided us in his word, broken down into a daily study. It is important to remember that leaders are also in the the secular arena and if you profess Christ then you will be held to that standard like it or not. The mark of a great leader is how many “great people” will join his team. Look at Davids mighty men.The trick in my opinion is focus, and sincerity. Leadership by any believer is a critical action that can leave those around you devastated when you do one thing and say another. It can be one of the most powerful witness’s and unfortunately one of the most devastating as well! People will generally not approach or trust a leader who’s actions do not align with there wittiness. If they simply judge you without communicating “because your the leader” you will have no opportunity to make things right. You also run an even bigger risk of being tested daily to see if you will hold your values. All in all leadership anywhere is a huge responsibility.
    Blessing’s
    Tom

  6. Rich after 4 years with you I would say you are very REAL!!! not perfect but real. I suggest reading The Handbook To Leadership “Leadership in the image of GOD” by Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell, Bill Perkins. It is a daily study of ALL the great examples of leadership GOD has provided us in his word, broken down into a daily study. It is important to remember that leaders are also in the the secular arena and if you profess Christ then you will be held to that standard like it or not. The mark of a great leader is how many “great people” will join his team. Look at Davids mighty men.The trick in my opinion is focus, and sincerity. Leadership by any believer is a critical action that can leave those around you devastated when you do one thing and say another. It can be one of the most powerful witness’s and unfortunately one of the most devastating as well! People will generally not approach or trust a leader who’s actions do not align with there wittiness. If they simply judge you without communicating “because your the leader” you will have no opportunity to make things right. You also run an even bigger risk of being tested daily to see if you will hold your values. All in all leadership anywhere is a huge responsibility.
    Blessing’s
    Tom

  7. Rich after 4 years with you I would say you are very REAL!!! not perfect but real. I suggest reading The Handbook To Leadership “Leadership in the image of GOD” by Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell, Bill Perkins. It is a daily study of ALL the great examples of leadership GOD has provided us in his word, broken down into a daily study. It is important to remember that leaders are also in the the secular arena and if you profess Christ then you will be held to that standard like it or not. The mark of a great leader is how many “great people” will join his team. Look at Davids mighty men.The trick in my opinion is focus, and sincerity. Leadership by any believer is a critical action that can leave those around you devastated when you do one thing and say another. It can be one of the most powerful witness’s and unfortunately one of the most devastating as well! People will generally not approach or trust a leader who’s actions do not align with there wittiness. If they simply judge you without communicating “because your the leader” you will have no opportunity to make things right. You also run an even bigger risk of being tested daily to see if you will hold your values. All in all leadership anywhere is a huge responsibility.
    Blessing’s
    Tom

  8. Rich after 4 years with you I would say you are very REAL!!! not perfect but real. I suggest reading The Handbook To Leadership “Leadership in the image of GOD” by Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell, Bill Perkins. It is a daily study of ALL the great examples of leadership GOD has provided us in his word, broken down into a daily study. It is important to remember that leaders are also in the the secular arena and if you profess Christ then you will be held to that standard like it or not. The mark of a great leader is how many “great people” will join his team. Look at Davids mighty men.The trick in my opinion is focus, and sincerity. Leadership by any believer is a critical action that can leave those around you devastated when you do one thing and say another. It can be one of the most powerful witness’s and unfortunately one of the most devastating as well! People will generally not approach or trust a leader who’s actions do not align with there wittiness. If they simply judge you without communicating “because your the leader” you will have no opportunity to make things right. You also run an even bigger risk of being tested daily to see if you will hold your values. All in all leadership anywhere is a huge responsibility.
    Blessing’s
    Tom

  9. the more I think on it the more I believe that leadership has less to do with what information you have in your head and what’s in your heart and your gut.

  10. the more I think on it the more I believe that leadership has less to do with what information you have in your head and what’s in your heart and your gut.

  11. the more I think on it the more I believe that leadership has less to do with what information you have in your head and what’s in your heart and your gut.

  12. the more I think on it the more I believe that leadership has less to do with what information you have in your head and what’s in your heart and your gut.

  13. i think you can take the word “leadership” out of the equation and it would apply to us all (although we all “lead” to some extent, parents, friends, etc.). thanks for giving me just what i needed today. and thank you God for speaking to today through my friend rich.

  14. i think you can take the word “leadership” out of the equation and it would apply to us all (although we all “lead” to some extent, parents, friends, etc.). thanks for giving me just what i needed today. and thank you God for speaking to today through my friend rich.

  15. i think you can take the word “leadership” out of the equation and it would apply to us all (although we all “lead” to some extent, parents, friends, etc.). thanks for giving me just what i needed today. and thank you God for speaking to today through my friend rich.

  16. i think you can take the word “leadership” out of the equation and it would apply to us all (although we all “lead” to some extent, parents, friends, etc.). thanks for giving me just what i needed today. and thank you God for speaking to today through my friend rich.

  17. Rich,
    Thank you for reminding me to keep it real. Raising five kids makes me realize that I am always leading and it’s not just them, but their friends and their friends parents who are looking for a role model in this hectic world. Admitting my faults to the people I love is one way I keep it real and asking God to help me is the main way. I also taught the Bible at a local women’s Bible Study for three years. I worked with the best team and they helped me to keep it real. It is great to have people around you who can speak the truth in love. I hope you have that.

  18. Rich,
    Thank you for reminding me to keep it real. Raising five kids makes me realize that I am always leading and it’s not just them, but their friends and their friends parents who are looking for a role model in this hectic world. Admitting my faults to the people I love is one way I keep it real and asking God to help me is the main way. I also taught the Bible at a local women’s Bible Study for three years. I worked with the best team and they helped me to keep it real. It is great to have people around you who can speak the truth in love. I hope you have that.

  19. Rich,
    Thank you for reminding me to keep it real. Raising five kids makes me realize that I am always leading and it’s not just them, but their friends and their friends parents who are looking for a role model in this hectic world. Admitting my faults to the people I love is one way I keep it real and asking God to help me is the main way. I also taught the Bible at a local women’s Bible Study for three years. I worked with the best team and they helped me to keep it real. It is great to have people around you who can speak the truth in love. I hope you have that.

  20. Rich,
    Thank you for reminding me to keep it real. Raising five kids makes me realize that I am always leading and it’s not just them, but their friends and their friends parents who are looking for a role model in this hectic world. Admitting my faults to the people I love is one way I keep it real and asking God to help me is the main way. I also taught the Bible at a local women’s Bible Study for three years. I worked with the best team and they helped me to keep it real. It is great to have people around you who can speak the truth in love. I hope you have that.

  21. Rich – just came to your blog today. Great entry. It’s sad to see pastors crash when the bunker gets assaulted. I just finished seminary, and early in my time there, my church and ministry were attacked more forcefully than I can possibly describe here. But it made me sure that I was called to the ministry. I am so concerned for the guys getting out of school who have the impression off ministry that is stressful, but ultimately problem free.Anyway, great post. I’ll be coming back to see what else you write. God bless and happy blogging!

  22. Rich – just came to your blog today. Great entry. It’s sad to see pastors crash when the bunker gets assaulted. I just finished seminary, and early in my time there, my church and ministry were attacked more forcefully than I can possibly describe here. But it made me sure that I was called to the ministry. I am so concerned for the guys getting out of school who have the impression off ministry that is stressful, but ultimately problem free.Anyway, great post. I’ll be coming back to see what else you write. God bless and happy blogging!

  23. Rich – just came to your blog today. Great entry. It’s sad to see pastors crash when the bunker gets assaulted. I just finished seminary, and early in my time there, my church and ministry were attacked more forcefully than I can possibly describe here. But it made me sure that I was called to the ministry. I am so concerned for the guys getting out of school who have the impression off ministry that is stressful, but ultimately problem free.Anyway, great post. I’ll be coming back to see what else you write. God bless and happy blogging!

  24. Rich – just came to your blog today. Great entry. It’s sad to see pastors crash when the bunker gets assaulted. I just finished seminary, and early in my time there, my church and ministry were attacked more forcefully than I can possibly describe here. But it made me sure that I was called to the ministry. I am so concerned for the guys getting out of school who have the impression off ministry that is stressful, but ultimately problem free.Anyway, great post. I’ll be coming back to see what else you write. God bless and happy blogging!

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