McMansions in the Sky


Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

McMansions in the Sky Leaders today are building eternal edifices on temporal foundations. The result? McMansions in the sky that lack foundations and crash leaving crushed hopes, confused leaders, and questioning followers. Everyone asks, “What happened?” What happened is what Jesus said would happen. When we build leaders and ministries on the sand of human talent, experience, and success, the storms of life bring them crashing down all around us…

We think talent, experience, and success are the foundation for effective leadership and don’t realize that these resources can never produce lasting leaders. If we depend on talent, experience, and success to give us lasting leaders, we are counting on the wrong resources to do the right job. We are right to form leaders; we are wrong to think that the tools are the foundation. We confuse the functional with the foundational and think that we can build something lasting without an adequate foundation in place. The foundation is the missing dimension in leadership today.

What is the foundation that must be in place to build lasting leaders who become eternal edifices? Jesus shows us in the way He formed leaders by focusing on their hearts. The foundation is the altared heart, the heart placed on God’s altar over and over again because when the heart becomes altared, the mind and the hands become altared too. Without altared hearts there are no lasting leaders. Jesus knew this. That’s why He spent so much time challenging His men about their hearts.

Jesus did not confuse the functional with the foundational. He knew the difference between the two and focused on the heart. He knew that if He laid a true foundation He would get the right kind of leaders, leaders who would bear lasting fruit because they would do with others what He had done with them. Interesting, isn’t it that Jesus never taught His men skills, but He spent months—even years—teaching them about their hearts? You know why He did that? Because He knew if you focus on the hands, you get skills, but if you focus on the heart, you get a life.

Of course we must train developing leaders in the skills of leadership, but well trained functional leaders will build beautiful McMansions in the sky that come crashing down. Sand is sand no matter what, and if we build on sand, we will be the ones standing in the rubble of our leadership asking, “What happened?” Wouldn’t it be great if we were asking, “What happened,” because we’re stunned to see God at work through altared hearts? We can if we will do what Jesus did and lay the same kind of leadership foundation that He laid. Just watch what He did and then count on Him to do the same thing through you.

What was the need of the heart to be altared? Stick around. We’ll get to that.  (from "McMansions in the Sky" on

Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.