Don't Blame the Devil -- Lead!

— by Mike Sharrow

I was in a workshop with Richard Blackaby this past spring.  During a Q&A session a leader said, “What do you do when you get a vision from God, you execute it but everything goes wrong, the teams don’t follow you on that vision and it blows up due to all of the spiritual warfare?”  Richard asked a clarifying question about how this leader translated vision into strategy, strategy into plans and execution, how he communicated with clarity, etc.  When the leader shared what he did, Richard then replied, “Sir, please do not blame the Devil for your bad leadership. He didn’t have to do anything with such poor leadership but stand back and let you mess it up!  Just because God gives a vision is not an excuse for poor leadership, management or execution.  Be careful blaming spiritual warfare for what is really a failure to lead.”  BOOM.  Mic drop.

We’ve all seen it!  We’ve all done it to some degree.  Particularly when in a setting where we’re doing work we label “missional” or “from/for God” (curious what things are then NOT?). 

It’s one of the reasons I and so many others can get nervous when a giant fish is put forward as a marketing flag for a company – does that entrepreneur believe the fish calls them to a higher standard or a flimsy grace excuse of some kind?  

If you are a faith-driven entrepreneur, you’re likely embarked on a mission either because you felt called in some way to a vision or anchored in an identity in Christ you are seeking to do “all things as unto Christ.”  That is a powerful fuel!  In fact, it can be a stimulant with the hazard of any other narcotic-esque drug – sparking overdrive, excess, or negligence that creates peril for you and those you lead or serve. 

We all need to hear what Richard told that leader.  Yes, there is legitimate spiritual warfare.  There is also sin, flesh, laziness, carnal pleasures hijacking our priorities, ulterior motives, conflicted identity, idolatry and a host of undertow factors that can absolutely wreck an entrepreneur. 

I get to serve a team that then supports a larger network of uniquely called leaders who then directly serve over 2,200 marketplace leaders around the globe all on a faith driven journey.  We find it essential to make sure we challenge and raise the bar on truly building great BUSINESSES with excellence, goodness, outcomes, competitive results and brand differentiation if we want to accomplish any greater PURPOSE through these ventures. 

When I was a young professional working in a Fortune 50 company in Chicago, I began to wrestle with this “sacred/secular” divide and was asking “how do I live out who I am in Christ here?”  My first mentor was a guy named Tony Barrett.  In our first meeting where I asked him how do I be effective as a Christ-followers in the company, he gave me great counsel: “Mike, first be absolutely excellent.  Like crush everything you do.  Do such amazing work that you’re above reproach, earn the respect of those around you and to ensure your testimony cannot be muffled by performance.  Then, so genuinely love Jesus in each moment and have such affection for Him that the desire to glorify God just oozes out in everything you do…so it’s not just a punctuation mark here or there in a spurt of sudden God talk, but a consistent aspect of who you are as a leader.”  Honestly, that sums up a dozen books you could read on the topic pretty darn well!

So, in the spirit of wanting this to be a site that spurs marketplace saints on to “love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24), let me invite you to wrestle with some universal business scaling issues.  Here are a few free resources with tools and actionable content to help you move the needle in your business right away:

How do you interview and hire for fit to your team and mission? eBook

How do you price and position your product for maximum value and margin alignment? How do you think about profits Biblically?  eBook

The best way to grow sales is to keep happy customers, so how do you cultivate loyalty for exponential growth and “good profits” along the way? eBook

Early on entrepreneur is French for “I do everything,” but as you scale an organization what is the non-delegatable job description for you as a CEO?  eBook

How do you discern God’s will?  Easy topic, right?  It’s so easy to run off on a feeling, a sense, a proof-texted verse that fits your wanted vision…how do you vet out the leading of God?  Here’s a discernment tool we find practical and effective – 5 Point Discernment Tool

Try those out.  Seek God.  Live out of a robustly ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.  Let’s not let our identity or vision be an excuse for bad leadership, but rather the fuel and motivator for great leadership.  One of my agendas in the work I do, frankly, is to redeem the brand dignity of “Christian business leadership” to be associated with the very highest standards in society (case study).   

Lead well.  It matters!


[Special thanks to Clique Images on Unsplash for the cover photo]