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Leadership reflections: Keep watch over yourself

Leadership Reflections 005

Over the last few years we have all heard and processed news of leaders who have fallen short of the high standards that are laid out in the Bible. For many of us these instances have been upsetting, painful and heartbreaking. We share those feelings of pain at the abuse, ill treatment and hurt that has been experienced around the Church.

It’s caused Debby and me to reflect again, with some of our team, on the leadership lessons we can learn in this moment; lessons for our own churches and those across the wider Vineyard family here in the UK and Ireland. 

This series of Leadership Reflections contains some teaching and lessons which we have shared with Vineyard Senior Pastors over the last few years.  As we continue to listen and learn from this season, we wanted to open these resources up to anyone who would find them helpful by publishing them publicly.

Our prayer is that you might find these helpful and by the grace of God, together we can create churches that are safe, Kingdom-centred communities for us all to call home.    

John & Debby Wright

National Directors

Vineyard Churches UK & Ireland


As Paul said to the elders in Ephesus in Acts 20, 

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.’ (Acts 20:28)

There is nothing more precious than God’s blood, and therefore, the Church is the most precious thing in the universe. Those of us who are Pastors and leaders have an awesome calling, in every sense of that word.

Sometimes, of course, leading God’s people is challenging. We are shepherds of God’s flock, but sometimes sheep bite. The workload seems overwhelming. We may be tempted to quit. But, when we feel frustrated with the flock under our care, when pastoral ministry just seems too hard, it is crucial that we remember what a precious calling pastoral ministry is. And as we consider how precious what we have been entrusted with is, it gives us a perspective which can shape how we conduct ourselves as leaders in a way which pleases God.

We have an enemy

Another perspective to keep in mind is that we have an enemy.  An enemy of the Church. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but spiritual opposition is a very real reality.

If you want to scatter the sheep, strike the shepherd. The enemy is very aware, even when we are not self aware. He studies us, he sees our vulnerable places, he waits and orchestrates.

The enemy is very aware, even when we are not self aware.

Jesus was tempted to do something which would thwart his Messianic calling. In Luke 4, we read that ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.’ That moment was in the Garden of Gethsemane when the temptation to thwart his calling came back with a vengeance. Where there is an area of weakness which could be exploited to bring damage, Satan waits for an opportune time.

It might be little compromises, a situation, a close relationship which becomes tempting, flirting this side of the line. In a moment of isolation, tiredness, needing comfort, suddenly that person is there.

Acts 20:28

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.’ 

Self awareness

As you continue to watch over yourself and work on your self awareness, some good questions to ask yourselves could be:

Where might my vulnerabilities be?

What are my blind spots?

How do people experience me?

Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses

Personality types are helpful. There are a range of personality tests and strengths tests which we and those in our teams have engaged with to different degrees.

They are helpful, not to excuse the way we carry ourselves in situations, but to both explain a bit, and to help us choose a different behaviour. It is important to be aware of our strengths, but also to be aware of our weaknesses.

For instance, I am pretty task focused. God has used that lean to achieve some key things. However the weakness which goes with that is that I am not very empathetic.

I am pretty compassionate when I see people who are struggling or in pain, but I am less likely to pick up on emotional dynamics when I am focused on a task. I need other more empathetic people working alongside me, to not only spot my blind spots but to ensure that empathy is given priority in certain situations.

We would do well to be aware of those strengths and weaknesses and how those closest to us experience us can provide valuable insights into that.

How does your family experience you? 

If we have a spouse and children, they are the most important individuals God has entrusted to us, and however others might perceive us, ideally those closest to us should respect us the most.

Close family members see us in our less guarded moments. You can’t pretend for long with close family and their reflections on how we behave, how we are experienced, are very important to listen to.

If our spouse observes that we are overbearing or demanding or selfish or excessively irritable or any other thing which we shouldn’t be:

  • We would do well to listen to them carefully, and do what we can to change. 
  • Ask yourself, do we make it easy for them to give us feedback or are we defensive, self justifying and dismissive?

As leaders, we need to be self aware about our strengths, and to realise that every strength has its shadow – it’s corresponding weakness within the strength.

Everyone in leadership will find different things challenging. Being self aware is one way we can keep a watch over ourself. You can find more practical guidance on a range of different things here  

Being self aware is one way we can keep a watch over ourself.

But whatever capacity you are leading in, every leader would do well to make it a priority to keep a watch over themselves.

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