Top 5 Dangers That Disqualify a Church Leader

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When the leadership of a minister is injured by any of these, whether they can be restored or not, the effectiveness of the ministry is jeopardized.

I was recently asked the question:

What are the dangers that disqualify church leaders from leadership in the church?

Great question. The one who asked the question had a purpose. Thankfully, it was that this young church leader wanted to avoid them if possible. I love the intentionality.

I had to think back over my years in church leadership and some of the situations I’ve seen that derailed a ministry leader’s ability to lead.

While the term “disqualify” may not always fit—I may even prefer the word “sidetrack” because I believe God’s grace can restore—even those in ministry, certainly each of these can keep a leader from leading at full capacity.

I chose, based on the question I received, to stick with the term “disqualify.” As strong as the word is, there certainly are times that is the case.

When the leadership of a minister is injured by any of these, whether they can be restored or not, the effectiveness of the ministry is jeopardized.

These are the type of dangers that, if the leader doesn’t seek help, improve as a leader or renew their passion for ministry, he or she may never be completely effective in ministry, and may even lose their position in ministry.

Here are five dangers that disqualify a church leader:


Immorality has destroyed many great leaders. Don’t let it happen to you.


When you lose the ability to be trusted, you distance yourself from people who are willing to follow. Don’t let it happen to you.


If you aren’t willing to give your best, pretty soon you’ll have nothing worth following. Don’t let it happen to you.


Ministers who take advantage of flexible work schedules or less structured accountability to work less are eventually discovered. Don’t let it happen to you.


When you don’t care, neither will the people you’re trying to lead. Don’t let it happen to you.

God can restore. He does restore. I believe you can move forward after any of these dangers.

The more you protect yourself from these dangers, however, the stronger and longer your tenure in ministry will be.

What dangers would you add that disqualify a church leader?  

Ron Edmondson Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.

More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at

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  • SijuAlex

    Disrespect for others, often borne out of the pride of what we seem to be

  • Olajide Omowanle

    This is really nice; am quite bless by it.However,I believe PRIDE and Disloyalty can also fit in.Thanks

  • g.k. sexton

    Willful pride and an unteachable spirit disguised as “conviction.” A lot of time this egoist tends to show up as lousy listening. The “priesthood of all believers is discounted when a leader fails to truly listen to the whole person (parishioner) as if “I know what’s best for your spiritual growth.” This constitutes a boundary violation and over-reach of pastoral authority. We may desire to cultivate “graciously intrusive communities” (cf. Paul Tripp) as a response to our overly privatized American society; but the balance is to truly respect the dignity of fellow Image-Bearers. Real listening is a great place to begin.

  • Phil

    Failing to continue growing himself.

  • Edgar Fishbine

    What about long term porn addiction ?

    • Brian

      That would fall under the immorality category.

    • JB

      Lol?? Seriously?

  • Rev Amponsah

    Prayer-less live,pride,love of money, emotion.Thanks

  • Yvon Prehn

    Anger and verbal abuse disguised as “strong leadership” –ignoring the Biblical prohibition against “fits of rage.”

  • Ryan

    Doing too much! This happened to me. (8 ministries) You get stretched too thin and you can’t put the care that is needed into any one thing because you don’t have the time. In the end you get burned out and when you see no end and no good time of rest from the never-ending ministries your involved in. Sure, I may have gotten a rest from one or two here and there but still, 6 other responsibilities. The whole ministry thing becomes such a bad experience because of the burned outness that when opportunity knocked as it did for me, you quit everything. It’s kind of a self-disqualification.

    • P. Montgomery

      This is true, thanks

  • Gary S Colville

    Gr8 Article. I have been Pastoring in New Zealand for 34 years, 27yrs in Porirua and working with Pastors for a number of years and would like to suggest one more really big one: ‘Being self dependent’ it comes in two guises which are often one and the same ‘Being a bully’ or being ‘Autocratic’. People justify the behavior but in reality it is sin because we are meant to be the body of Christ and the behaviors behind this rob God of His right to empower the Church through His Holy Spirit’s Gifting. I’m also presently the President of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand and at present pretty excited about the shift away from this kind of attitude that we have been plagued with in New Zealand historically. It happens when people who are not Spiritually gifted to lead the Church are invited to do so. An Evangelist or Administrator, without a gift of Leadership, for example, is almost always going to have a negative affect.I believe that this is why it is so important to establish what the persons spiritual gifting mix is before appointing them.

  • Sammy Ekeminiobong

    I’m blessed by these insights and comments. Let me add INSENSITIVITY to the list

  • L.N.Brito

    Indiference related to the advice of other leaders or members from the staff.

    – There staff leaders and companions in the church that give words to the senior leaders wanting to help them with the way the things are going. It is not rare that they are not listened, or listened but no attitude is seen being taken.
    No leadership coaching or no leadership guideship vision.
    – How to help a leader or keep up the path if no one knows what is in his mind or what is his dream?

  • islanderwaab

    Great reminder! God bless!

  • Rostyslav Kudin

    Disobedience – to lead is to be led at the same time

  • Mark

    Arrogance-This causes other people to either become arrogant because their leaders are or not listen to anything you say.

    • G-Man Nicholl

      Arrogance- Seen a lot of that in the ministry over the years. Such leaders are reluctant to relinquish control over any aspect of the ministry because they are convinced that no one can do it as well as they can. But they are human beings, limited. The ministry suffers because they are unwilling to delegate. They suffer because there is no way they can adequately serve all modes of a ministry by themselves. They usually wind up burning out and resigning from the ministry in short order but not before they inflict significant collateral damage on the laity. Sad, but a lot more prevalent than you would like to think.

  • Mark

    Judgemental-G-d is the supreme judge, not you.

  • D

    Flexible schedule to work less?

    Ya know I’ve always believed that if you’re good at what you do it shouldn’t take that long to get it done.

    One of my first deal jobs at a church was at a mega bopper & I was worship pastor. Ok I’ve been doing this since I was 4 k? I could do charts, make CDs for the band, & whatever else in a day & be done. Well I literally would have weeks at a time where I had nothing that needed doing so I would read or find someone else to help & one day another pastor made a snide remark about me not having anything to do & the lead pastor looked at him & said “When you get to be as good at what you do as he is at what he does? You’ll have extra free time on your hands as well’

  • Daniel Kriss

    How about simply relinquishing the authority of the Scriptures, surely a deviation from the truth is the greatest failure!!!

  • doc

    yeah i can think of one compassion not having compassion for those in you ministry or congrigation

  • Uber Genie

    So… these are the obvious ones. However, lack of transparency (even best friends say they hardly know them), or lack of emotional development (i.e. easily hurt by constructive criticism, vindictive when they don’t get their way, easily angered, extremely rigid in their worldview well beyond the scriptures (Fundamentalists)) cause even greater damage to churches because they are silent killers. These so-called Pastors can smile and teach and be self-deprecating from the pulpit but in real life are duplicitous children. People leave in droves and say nothing because the public face of these Pastors is beyond reproach. But cancer always kills. If your Pastor is low on the Empathy, Compassion, and Tolerance psychological scales chances and he sees himself as superior to the flock he is a hireling. If he is unwilling to allow home groups or does allow them but wants to control what is taught (tells you what to teach and how) then the diagnosis is troubling. If a significant portion of his teaching focuses on incorrect doctrine of other Christian Teachers (e.g. John MacArthur) then the diagnosis is troubling.

    Immature, undeveloped, opinionated Pastors need to go. Problem is if they are good teachers and the church members are consumeristic (i.e. are there to watch a show (any televangelist ministry and many large evangelical churches)), then this type of Pastor will not only remain but flourish. Unfortunately, he remains at the cost of spiritual development of the members.

  • Emil Towns

    Intentionally splitting a church and planting a church in the same rural community that already has two churches and a population of under a thousand saying it is God’s will.

  • Jon


  • Chuck

    Self Leadership and Self awareness. I’m convinced as great as it is to have a high I.Q. We also need to work on our E.Q. Emotional quotient. If a pastor just thinks the ministry is about academics then go teach in a university. Ministry is relationships!

  • GibbyD

    Hmm , I would have guessed that pride from being a novice , would have been on that list .


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