Wall Breakers Anonymous

Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

Sooner or later all of us hit the wall of inadequacy.  There are no exceptions, no escape.  There’s only denial, cover up, and futile efforts to break through, get over, get around, or dig under this utterly unexpected roadblock in life.

The problem is everything we’ve done before doesn’t work.  The barrier may be a career killer or a family struggle or a relationship block, but whatever it is, it matters to us, and we want it to end NOW!But nothing we do makes any difference because this unexpected and unwanted hindrance remains.  We try all our tried and true methods, but they don’t work.  So we start looking to others without admitting any problems sometimes not to ourselves , certainly not to them.  We work on developing new methods and find something that helps some.  Next we reorganize (always the solution), and that also helps some, but not enough.  Gradually we become increasingly desperate and reach out for any straw that works.  But nothing works.  So we give up, settle down at the wall of inadequacy, and work all week long on our Sunday morning smile.  It’s at that point we realize everyone else is smiling the same way.  All those Sunday morning smiles say the same thing:  I’m hiding at the wall of inadequacy.

Jesus deliberately brings us to this wall, just as He did His men, because He knows we must become wall breakers if we are to do what He wants us to.  None of us can keep any of God’s commands or accomplish any of Christ’s purposes for us until we learn to navigate the wall of inadequacy.  Jesus tells us how we can become wall breakers in a few simple words:  deny self, take up your cross, follow Me (Mk. 8:34).

There’s teaching all around us that promises us the “secret” of power.  What silliness.  There are no secrets.  It’s all spelled out for us to read in God’s word.  Always the implication in such teaching is that once we learn this “secret,” we’ll be past the wall, and life will be cream puff easy from then on.  What destructive nonsense.  We must understand that we’ll never get past the wall of inadequacy.  We can break through it today, but this afternoon or tonight, certainly by tomorrow, we’ll find ourselves right back where we were.  You see, we are the wall of inadequacy.  “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”  The wall of inadequacy is innate in us, in our hearts, part of the very fabric of our beings.  It is the self that Jesus calls on us to deny, the self-assertion, self-advancement, and self-dependence that paralyzes us and deflates our gifts, the self that we have relied on all our lives.  This self never leaves us and never changes as long as we live.  It will always deceive us into thinking we can do what we cannot do.  It will always destroy the good we seek to do. Only the cross can overcome this wall and move us forward.

And how does the cross do this?  Once again, next time.  But one thing’s for sure:  the cross is not your grandmother’s lumbago!

From "Wall Breakers Anonymous" on Broken Leadership Blog is about changing the leadership conversation from what we are doing with our hands to what God is doing through our hearts.


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.