Pastor Keith Hodges
Liberty Church, Alabama
As a pastor or leader, you have probably experienced one of the most frustrating things in leadership--being blindsided. You may be thinking that everyone is on the same page, the direction and vision is clear, we are moving forward as a team, and then it happens. You get a text, call, or visit from someone on your team who is offended, frustrated, or ready to walk away. You just talked with them last week, you clarified their role, you entrusted them with more authority, or a million other scenarios. Regardless of the exact situation, you thought everything and more importantly everyone was good, but they were not!
The truth is this scenario is never going to completely disappear, and the larger your ministry, the more opportunities there are for this to happen. However, there is good news. I want to share with you three reasons, I believe, this happens and a couple ways we can minimize these moments in our leadership.
1. People are distracted by life.
First, we must recognize that people are distracted by life. Let’s be honest--as leaders, we also get distracted by life. If you are like most pastors, you have a small staff and a growing ministry that is fueled by volunteers. Most of the people you are leading are not in ministry full-time and many of you reading this, as pastors, are not in ministry full-time, yourselves, so you understand. Regardless of your vocational position as a pastor or church leader, you probably think about ministry all the time.
Lightbulb Moment: Your team leaders who are working their jobs, raising their families, and struggling to just get the kids to school on time are not thinking about ministry all the time. They are distracted by life; they are not spending hours a week processing the plan, working through the next steps, or even meditating on the vision. The simple truth of this point is distraction creates frustration and frustration breeds offense.
2. The enemy distorts the truth.
The second thing we need to remember is the enemy distorts the truth. Sometimes we forget when dealing with our teams, volunteers, and staff members that there is a real devil who works overtime to distort the truth. Conversations and text messages somehow become filled with emotions and inflections we never intended to send. Satan is a manipulator and deceiver. He sows seeds of discord and mistrust to divide and conquer. Recognizing this helps us decode the blindsided attack and remember that our team member is not our enemy.
3. Everyone filters information through past experiences.
The third thing is to recognize that everyone filters information through the filter of their past experiences. What you said and how you said it was perfectly acceptable to you, but their filter is different from yours. One of the challenges of leadership, like parenting, is you realize the rules apply to everyone, but the way you communicate the rules, vision, and next steps has to be unique to the person you're leading. This is what makes you an effective leader--you care about the people you are leading.
So let me wrap up with a couple very practical instructions: Know your people, pray for discernment, be clear, and communicate more than you think is necessary. Next, remember that one of your jobs as a leader is to help people overcome themselves. We all have self-imposed limitations. As the pastor/leader, you have been entrusted with the opportunity to help people overcome their own limitations and lead them to the next level. Lastly is this reality...sometimes we must release people to help people. Not everyone is supposed to be on your team. I believe this should be our last option not our first choice.