The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make

Earlier this week, I saw an online guru share the number of website views they have each month as a way to introduce themselves. It was an attempt to validate the scope of their leadership. My initial reaction was, “Holy cow, that’s a lot of influence.”

Feelings of insufficiency immediately followed. One million views a month seemed incredible. I quickly discredited my own opportunity for influence, but then I remembered when I first began blogging and 10,000 views seemed unachievable.

Whether it is website views or income or sales numbers or well-behaved kids, we all use certain metrics to validate our success.

While measuring, or keeping score, isn’t inherently wrong, here’s a story to remind us that quantity doesn’t always validate success.

David’s Mistake

In 2 Samuel 24, after David is made king of Israel, he begins conquering the surrounding lands. His army and his influence expand exponentially.

But do you know what David did?

“Then Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census.”

David let down his guard long enough for pride set in—as if numbers validated God’s promise in his life. In a moment of weakness, David wanted to measure his sphere of influence.

One of the king’s servants recognized David’s flaw and immediately tried to offer counsel:

“The Lord can multiply his troops a hundred times over. Why do you want to do this?”

Sometimes, as a leader, we’re deaf to our own pride. Or even worse, it speaks louder than the counsel of others. That was true in David’s case. He took the census anyway.

Almost immediately, David knew his error. And as he suspected, the Lord wasn’t pleased.

“God said, ‘Take your choice: three years of famine, three months at the hands of your enemies or three days of the sword of the Lord—a plague in the land”

David begged for mercy:

“I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great.”

Over the next three days, a plague fell upon the army killing 70,000 of David’s men. After three days, God withdrew His hand and David had learned a tough lesson.

In David’s case, God had been consistently faithful. From slaying Goliath to delivering David from the hands of King Saul, God’s promises had always prevailed. Yet, as David began to see continued success, he started to believe, not in God, but in himself.

Quantity ≠ Leadership

In our comparison culture, I think leaders need to be reminded that God doesn’t measure our impact by the number of Twitter followers or Facebook friends we have. He isn’t concerned with how many website hits we get or how many books we sell this month.

He simply asks us to remember the source of our blessings and to be trustworthy with what we have been given.

Of one thing I’m certain, if we’re not managing one well, we’ll never have the opportunity to manage more.

Leading one million begins with leading one.


Leaders, I challenge you with these two questions:

Why are you counting?

How can you be faithful with what you’ve been given?


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10 Responses to The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make

  1. tiffanyreneec November 16, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Awesome…sometimes its hard to remember that….it’s too easy to get wrapped up in outside validation instead of finding it from within/from our relationship with God (or whatever higher power we believe in).
    Oh, and I love the Coming to America quote!!!

    • Matt Ham November 16, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Thanks Tiffany!! Reverend Brown had a lot of wisdom: “If lovin’ the Lord is wrong I don’t wanna be right!”

  2. Pam November 16, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    That’s who our God is …the one to remind us of the way.

    • Matt Ham November 16, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Very true! Thanks Pam!

  3. Marie Bryant November 16, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    We all have days where we are humbled. You can still have excitement about all the good you are doing. I am excited for you!

    • Matt Ham November 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      Thank you for the encouragement Marie!

  4. Joseph Lalonde November 17, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    I struggle with getting caught up in my website views as well. It’s difficult for me because I see it as a way to see my impact on others and the kind of growth the site is having.

    • Matt Ham November 17, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      Joe – I’m there with you brother! The story from King David really helped me keep it in check. Basically, I see it, if God has you telling a story, trust Him with it. You?

  5. palmers1 November 20, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    A friend reminded me of this very truth the other day. Thank you for your words and transparency.

    • Matt Ham November 20, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      Hey! Thank you for taking the time to read and share! It’s soooo easy to make life about quantity, but so many times we need a reminder that it’s not.