Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The pain of leadership

i read an article this morning that challenged me to evaluate my leadership by asking the question, “what do i need to stop doing?”. this is a good question. the worth of our leadership (maybe our entire lives, also) is defined not just by what we do, but also by what we don’t do.

as i read about the lives and impact of great men and women throughout the ages, especially great leaders, one of the characteristics they share is the ability to stay focused on the goal…to strip away the things that keep them from achieving their dreams and forge ahead with singlemindedness.

the apostle paul lived this kind of life.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

now, here’s where my struggle is this morning… great leaders, in order to achieve great outcomes, must make difficult decisions where relationships (sometimes significant relationships) are the casualties.

this is obvious in the corporate world. ceo’s are hired for their ability to make strong and swift assessments and are rewarded for their resolve and determination to be decisive when it comes to the success of the organization. a company that exceeds expectations and rises above the riff raff of mediocrity almost always points to leadership that has had to come in and make the “tough decisions”.

in my experience, that means people are hurt, relationships are severed, dreams are squashed, and friendships are sent packing…all for the good of the corporation.

don’t get me wrong. i understand the need. baseball coaches have to cut players that are not good enough and replace them with better ones if they want to win. businesses must get rid of poor producers and raise up more successful sales people if they want to turn a profit. bosses need to be bosses…and employees need to know that their jobs are not safe just because their superiors are “nice guys” or “nice women”. i get it.

but what is supposed to happen in the church? what are we to do when the workers are late or sloppy or ineffective or careless or thoughtless or inconsiderate or unconcerned? what are we to do when the product we present is second-rate or offensive? what if the ministry we perform is substandard or even harmful to the mission? what if there is disagreement with the direction of organization or a challenge to the leadership position?

what if, in our effort to fix the problem, people get hurt and relationships get torn and friendships get shattered? what if, in spite of our best effort, decisions result in people leaving?

apparently, a strong leader says that the greater good has been served. what do you say?


Anonymous said...

I think you clean your own house first (Matthew 7ish).

I would hope that ineffective work and leadership can be taken care of before it shows up in a crucial situation, but stuff happens that can't be foreseen.

I think in the church it's our responsibility to push each other and hold each other accountable to a high standard without there being a leader that has to do all the dirty work because we don't have the gumption to do it ourselves.

accountability, however, is consensual, a two way street. If someone wants to be along for the ride, but doesn't want to take any responsibility to make things work well, then they should be "cut." It sucks (a lot), but if we don't want to do the work and are ok with mediocrity in ministry, then shame on us.

Christ demands our all. if we don't give it, there shouldn't be a problem calling us out regardless of who does it.

BINXY said...

I say that is weighted question.

The model for running a church as you would a corporation has been used since the time of the Great Awakening - but we are confronted with something called PHILOS - brotherly love...

While one wouldn't think that nepotism could be a positive thing it is...inside of a church family there is natural favortism at play. There are jobs given simply because of familiarity...because familiarity does not breed contemption but TRUST.

In the case where a person is not performing at stellar levels I think that the problem is simply its not their project. They are operating in their WEAKNESSES and not their STRENGTHS...which in this case it would be weaknesses not only of personality traits, talents and abilities but also spiritual gifts.

Inside of a church it is essential that personality and spiritual gifts be considered even ABOVE talent and ability so that the glory is not self-derived but God-given.

Like in dating, if a guy doesn't call - "He's just not that into you"...if a person is not doing a great job - honestly whether they realize it or not "they are just not into serving in that area".

While it may be difficult to prune a branch in one area by putting a member of the Body in the place they should be working in and that matches their personality, spiritual gifts and talents/abilities - you are going to have a better fit and a better-functioning Body.

luke said...

Any time you get a group of people together and try to achieve a goal there will be those that get their toes stepped on or their feelings hurt. Is it more important to please everyone or do God's work? Plenty simple answer for me. So many times we candy coat our faith. Its not all about sunshine pumping. Sometimes you have to have fire and brimstone.