Monday, January 14, 2008

Ticking People Off

Every Monday, I get an email from (by Todd Rhoades). It seems specially designed for pastors who, after Sunday, need to be restored, renewed, and revisioned.

Today, he wrote about a book by Oren Harari entitled, The Leadership Secrets of Collin Powell.

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is quoted as saying, "Being responsible sometimes means ticking people off." Todd observes: "Sometimes when you're a responsible leader, people will not like what you're doing. Sometimes people will get quite angry. Unfortunately, in a church leadership setting, many times this means that people will get so angry they will leave the church."

Again, he quotes Powell: "Making people mad was part of being a good leader. As I had learned long ago, an individual's hurt feelings run a distant second to the good of the service."

The author writes: "Leadership can't be a popularity contest. Trying not to offend anyone, or trying to get everyone to like you, will set you on the road to mediocrity. Why? Because leaders who are afraid to make people angry are likely to waver and procrastinate when it comes time to make tough choices. Leaders who care more about being liked than about being effective are unlikely to confront people who need confronting. They won't challenge the status quo. And inevitably, by not challenging tradition, they hurt both their own credibility and their organization's performance."

Rhoades concludes: "Clearly, in ministry work, peoples' feelings are important. But the work God has called us to do for the kingdom is equally important. Many churches are deadlocked in tradition and will never change because there's a group of people whose feelings (or even sins) will never be confronted...As effective leaders, sometimes being responsible means ticking people off."

Ouch! Wow! That's tough! Especially for someone with my temperament which wants to make everyone happy. "Can't we all just get along?" I'm sure there are some who would not believe that is my temperament, but rather have suggested I am manipulative, self-seeking, insensitive, and high-handed. Ouch! Lord, help me to be open to what I need to learn.

I must remember that Jesus did not hesitate to "tick people off" with the truth and by exposing their hypocrisy, deceitfulness, and lack of comprehension of the way of the Kingdom and the cross.

One of my hindrances is that I know that I am not Jesus and that I, like everyone, have a proclivity for self-deception (Jeremiah 17:9) and often nurture a lack of self-perception. After all, a "blind spot" is, by definition, a "BLIND" spot -- i.e. a flaw I cannot see.

People with a temperamental bent like mine (which includes both a strength and a weakness) often promote a "culture of niceness" in which ticking people off feels very wrong. As suggested above, it can really contribute to mediocrity.

Of course, the pendulum may be swung too far the other way, and often is by those whose temperament is more confrontational than conciliatory.

May God help me to self-perceive and, guided by the Holy Spirit, to be fearless about integrity and truth, even when it is offensive. I must fear offending God far more than offending people.

1 comment:

Jody said...

I find the same thoughts pertain so well to parenting too. Afterall, parents are guiding and 'leading' their children. Sometimes it is hard to know when to discipline and how to discipline and to balance it all with unconditional love.
Good thoughts here though. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, your insights and your struggles too. I think THAT all adds up to a recipe for great leadership. Seeking God in all things and trusting that He will hold us up- even when we feel like failures.
Leaders are so needed in this country/world. GOOD leaders. GODLY leaders. Thank you for being used in this way.