A Blog on Christian Leadership & Cultural Engagement

How Flaws Develop

by Andrew B. Seidel on August 27, 2013

Leadership Checkpoint: Do you evaluate or ignore your leadership flaws? 

An often overlooked truth of leadership is that all leaders bring themselves with them into every leadership situation. While we celebrate the leadership gifts and abilities we bring, we often hide or cover our weaknesses and refuse to consider our flaws that we bring along as well. Too often our flaws dilute the impact of our strengths.

Nobody is perfect. This is a generally accepted truth, at least theoretically. But where do those imperfections come from? At times it feels as if they just creep up, appearing out of nowhere and shocking us as much as they shock their victims. Perhaps in tracing their development, we can find the point of weakness that needs to be addressed, rather than merely trying to control the consequences of that flaw.

Sinful Bias

On the most fundamental level, we are all born with a sinful bias to our human natures. Because of Adam’s rebellion against God, his sin has infected all mankind (Romans 5.19). That means we come into the world with a built-in warp in our character. We have a propensity toward sinful solutions to our life issues.

This sinful bias is so much a part of our nature that we hardly recognize it. In fact, it is buried so deep within us that the unbelieving world asserts that we are all born good, and it is only our environment that corrupts us. Jeremiah reminds us that, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17.9)

Sinful Choices

Character flows develop from this warped foundation as we sinfully respond to various life situations. Most often, it is a response to a difficult or painful experience.

For example, sometimes when a person grows up in a home with rigidly high standards, his response is that he feels that he must always perform exceptionally well to be acceptable to other people. While this response may not seem that bad, it still represents the person’s commitment to control his life circumstances so that he can find satisfaction apart from trusting in God. In other cases, the flesh responds to difficult situations by producing less acceptable kinds of character failures including:

  • the need to always be right,
  • a need to always be in control,
  • an inordinate need for attention, approval, appreciation,
  • a need to be needed,
  • workaholism, the feeling of never doing enough,
  • the feeling of never being good enough,
  • using other people for personal gain,
  • unwillingness to take a risk,
  • unwillingness to take a stand on issues for fear of rejection,
  • divisiveness, and
  • being cold, aloof, distant (a preemptive strike against the fear of being rejected).

Refusing to Deal with our Sinful Choices

The above wrong choices, bad as they are, could be dealt with by an honest admission and confession of them as sin. At that point they would be a relatively normal, though regrettable, human failure. What turns them into character flaws is the final stage of flaw production, when we refuse to deal with either the sinful choices or the underlying reasons behind them.

Avoiding, rationalizing, minimizing, denying, covering up, and shifting blame to someone or something else are all well-used strategies for refusing to deal with our own personal issues. Do this long enough, and dangerous cracks open up in our character.

Such flaws will destroy a leader and demolish his ministry. Furthermore, they will cripple the church. The solution is to become aware of them and deal with them before they can cause the destruction that Satan desires.

So, what are your flaws? (Hint: It is probably the characteristic that first came to your mind and you worked to justify it away). Our flaws arise originally out of our sin nature but are perpetuated in sinful choices. Perhaps reflect this week on where your flaw(s) first began and see if you can trace a cycle of sin or destructive choices in the shadows.

Be sure to check out our follow-up article, which addresses How to Deal With Your Flaws

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This is an excerpt from Andrew Seidel’s established work Charting A Bold Course: Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry. For more information on this title and for many other leadership resources, visit our Resource Center today!