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Breaking the Myth of ‘Infallible’ Leaders

Team Based – Pastor Led leadership avoids the pitfalls of vanity and believing the pastor is or has to be always right.

By Danny Zachariah, Pastor and Regional Director India Sub Continent

As our denomination continues to discuss healthy leadership, a phenomenon leaders should be wary of is, what I would call, the “Infallibility” syndrome. This is when a leader tends to rate his or her competence so highly that they manage to convince themselves that they are very unlikely to, or even worse, never, make mistakes. It is easy to default to our old pastor-centric model, in which we could continue to convince ourselves, “God called me to this post; therefore, I know what’s best.” Sometimes this syndrome is also fed by those who surround the leader. People who only agree with the leader, indulging in hype and appeals to emotion to stroke his or her ego of indispensability, could dupe the leader into believing they have more answers, information, or knowledge than they do, leading to this infallibility syndrome.

It is more than evident through human experience that only one human has ever been infallible; his name is Jesus. The rest of us need others to achieve any kind of success in ministry and mission. We can try to be infallible or be the answer man. But sooner or later, we all must face up to the fact there is much we don’t know, and there is much we don’t know that we don’t know. Taking a leaf out of ancient Israel’s history of their repeated fallible behaviour, Paul reminded believers in Corinth that “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Leaders must specifically be wary of this attitude of mind.

Leaders who fall into the pit of an infallible paradigm will generate systems of domination, coercion, and control. In extreme cases, they can delude themselves into thinking even their “wrongdoing” remains anointed by God. Some church leaders in sex scandals simply managed to delude themselves and carried on their harm and abuse, thinking they had a “right to be wrong.”

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