Toxic Leadership

My, Devotion to Him #98




A battle is at hand within our churches. A battle for the integrity and life of the church. Some people have come into the church and have taken leadership. The only problem is, they are toxic. I know because I have seen it will my own eyes. I first thought it was me, then maybe it was just the way a decision was made. But as I examined it more and more and prayed on it, I soon came to realize that a wave of toxicity has somehow came into our churches. There are a few things I've found that I believe made a leader toxic. This cannot be accepted any longer in our churches. If we continue to let toxic leaders stay in their current positions, they will contaminate everything they touch. We must recognize and blow the whistle. We do this to save our churches. To save the body from a toxic contamination. Let's look at somethings that make up a toxic leader.


1. They Rarely Demonstrate The Fruits of the Spirit. 


VERSE PASSAGE: Galatians 5:22-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” - NIV


Leaders must show the Fruits of the Spirit. Those who belong to Christ and live by the Spirit must bear these fruits.


2. They Seek To Minimize The Structure of Accountability 


Putting themselves in a position that has very little or no accountability is toxic. These people tend to try and get away with as much as they can. There is no one to hold them to certain standards of conduct. If they could they would operate in a autocratic fashion with top down leadership and what is said is how things go. 


3. They Expect Certain Behavior From Others But Not From Themselves


These toxic leaders tend to enforce the policy “Do as I say, not as I do”. A leader leads by example if their actions cannot be followed then they are no good. 


4. They Show Favoritism 


These toxic leaders tend to favor a few while marginalizing the rest of the group. They tend to pick people based on personal history with them in a biased manner. Instead of looking at the quality of people. 


5. They Rarely Own Up To Things 


These toxic leaders will refute all wrongdoing or they will accept the blame but will not admit to wrongdoing. This is toxic! When wrongdoing is done leaders have to own up to decisions made. They must own up to statements made. However, if there is little accountability then these leaders will not admit to wrongdoing because they are not going to be held accountable. 


6. They Say Different Things To Different People About The Same Story 


If leaders cannot tell everyone the same exact thing about the exact same story they are toxic. We cannot allow lies to spread. 


7. They Dismiss 


Toxic leaders tend to divert questioning. They will dismiss wrongdoing, or anything else if it does not benefit them or will hurt them. They may state they are the leader and it was their call to make. Don't expect anymore from them after that. 


8. They Manipulate


A common tactic that toxic leaders will use is using partial truths to get their way. Be ware! 


9. They Lack Transparency


Autocratic leaders are rarely transparent. If they can be caught abusing or misusing their authority they may have to forfeit the power they hold. However, these people will try and reduce accountability standards for themselves in a way to help reduce the threat of getting caught. 


10. They Do Not Allow Pushback


Toxic leaders who experience pushback will somehow find a way to pushback themselves. They may change a deal without negotiation, they may pull people from other leadership positions. These people do not allow pushback. Punishment for those will come at some point in time. 


11. They Surround Themselves With “Yes Men” 


They will do what they can to get family and friends into some type of authority in order to help keep resistance low. They pick people who are yes men in order to ram through their own agenda. Why? Because they do not allow pushback, do not want accountability or to be transparent. Thus in their eyes a yes men is perfect to have around.


12. They Communicate Poorly 


Toxic leaders tend give vague answers to hard questions. Especially questions concerning themselves. These people communicate poorly and often revert back to saying “I don't remember saying this” because any clear communication would in return reveal their autocratic ways and desires. 


13. They Are Blind 


Toxic leaders are blind to their own actions, statements, and behavior. They would not see themselves as having any of these problems, they most likely will not admit it even if they knew the truth.


I'm sad to say it but there are toxic Christian leaders out there. We must recognize and blow the whistle before the contaminate the church. These people tend to get away with their toxicity due to their charm and charismatic manners. They may express a smoke screen of some resemblance to the Fruits of the Spirit as well. We must be ever so careful.


Copyright © 2017 by Jacob D. Olinger