Church Leadership Hacks: Don’t Be The Hero

In today’s BuzzFeed-driven media landscape, there’s a pressure to perform: get more social media likes and followers, appear to be at the top of your game, be awesome!  We chase the shiny objects yet our generation truly craves authenticity.  That’s why one of the best things you can do for your church is to not be the hero.

The temptation is to spin the stories online so that you look like the hero.  Yet the truth is that if you’re the hero of every story you tell, people either get intimidated or bored while you live in fantasy land.

Leadership demands vulnerability.  When you get real, it inspires loyalty in your leadership and hope in people’s lives.

Currently the church I love is journeying through 1 Samuel together.  Just like the hit show on HBO, this real-life Game of Thrones features warring kingdoms, giants and warrior-poets, and imperfect characters we cheer for.

Though he is a man after God’s own heart, David is a broken, regular guy thrust into a destiny he is not yet prepared for.

God’s preparation grounds lead David on a decade-long journey of hiding in caves, drinking rain water, and living as an outlaw being chased by hounds and the king’s personal bodyguards.

When God has an impossible task, He takes an impossible person and CRUSHES him.

That is the story of David in 1 Samuel: he wrote vivid and inspiring Psalms about walking through the shadow of the valley of death because he literally did.

We are attracted to broken, messy people because we are broken, messy people.

Don’t try to be the hero: make Jesus the hero and share how He has rescued you, just as He rescued David time and time again in 1 Samuel.

For what it’s worth, as I was preparing to preach this past weekend on David’s trials, I felt God’s Spirit gently whispering to me: “Be vulnerable.”

Although it wasn’t comfortable, I opened up and shared my story of being wrongly fired and crushed and deeply wounded… and how God used that experience to deepen my character as a follower of Christ.

I have been blown away by the overwhelming response from our people.  I am humbled that the Lord would use my family’s story of betrayal and brokenness to bring healing and hope into the lives of hundreds throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Don’t be the hero.  Be vulnerable.

Jonathan is the founding pastor of Life Church Michigan.

You can get his new book at

He once bought pantyhose with Tina Fey (true story).