When Leaders Go Missing

I wrote this post back in 2012, so some of the stories have passed, but I think the truth is still the same. I hope you are encouraged and challenged as you read it.


Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed this week with leukemia. Early reports are that it’s treatable, and he may “only” miss 6-8 weeks of football time with his team. Obviously that is less important that his health and the well being of his family and friends. Though football is a business, and important (in some respects), it should take a back seat here to the larger, personal issues.

For a moment though, let’s look at it from a leadership perspective.

The Colts have lost their leader for the foreseeable future and are expected to keep going.


Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, emailed his congregation recently to notify them that he has been having some health issues. His situation too does not appear life threatening at this point, but his email was about the strength of their church without having to rely on his presence.

When I read that my first thought was, “that’s a little naive”. He’s Rick Warren. Are we supposed to believe that his church will just run smoothly if something were to happen to him? I mean, he’s Rick Warren.


How much of the church, team, or company you lead is dependent on you?

I didn’t say how much of it reflects you? is because of you? or was built on your personality, leadership, style or strengths?

How much of this thing you lead depends on you?

If it all depends on you, if all decisions are made by you, if you lead the meetings, if you train the volunteers, if you are justifying right now why you need to do all those things…then you are building something that dies when you die. It gets sick when you get sick.

There are two conversations in play here:

1. What’s your longterm succession plan?
2. Who would run things in the short-term if you can’t?

A good leader answers these questions.


One day, probably sooner than you hope, someone else will wake up with the task of leading your former team.

What are you doing today to make sure they’re ready?

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Jeremy Isaacs

Lead Pastor at Canton Church
Jeremy is husband to Corrie, father to Cooper, Branson, Tucker and Kinley, and Lead Pastor of Canton Church in Canton, GA. He enjoys reading, writing, speaking, coaching Pastors and leaders, playing golf and watching Netflix with Corrie after the kids go to bed.

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