As a pastor, you are a leader. Your influence, you words, your actions matter. You will make mistakes, and you will have successes. Whether you have a staff or lead volunteers, whether you work with elders or a body of deacons, whether you answer to others, or others answer to you, you can become a more effective long-term leader in your ministry setting. Biblical leadership necessitates relationships. Jesus, our perfect example, selected, built, and developed a team for to fulfill his disciple-making mission.
In thinking about leading with and through others, I’ve observed several characters in church life created by lackluster leadership. These seven characters are not exhaustive. My hope is that these characters might help you identify potential leadership deficiencies and their corresponding antidotes.
- Frustrated Fred. Fred is constantly on edge because his leader has little patience. Fred is expected to know things and how to do things that he’s never been taught. Fred needs a patient coach. Antidote—patiently teach and model what to do and how to do it. Think about how Jesus modeled patient guidance to his disciples.
- Disillusioned Debbie. Debbie’s passion for ministry is gone. She feels as if she has little or no value. She’s shared multiple ideas and suggestions that have been ignored. Not listening to the ideas of others reveals arrogance and can create disillusionment. Debbie needs a listening leader. Antidote—humbly listen to the ideas of others. Give away credit to the team and individual members for successes.
- Surprised Sam. Sam pushes back regularly against the vision of the leader because he’s often surprised. Sam hears the vision and ideas for the first time publicly. Lack of communication has been the death of many incredible ideas. Poor communication incites surprise and distrust. Sam needs the opportunity to give feedback to the idea before it goes public. Antidote—communication ideas early and often giving leaders ample time for feedback.
- Disappointed Dan. Dan isn’t sure what his leader is going to do next. Inconsistency in interaction, discipline, benefits, and communication has bred a toxic atmosphere. Communicating different things to different people is a recipe for disappointment. Dan needs consistency and certainty. Antidote—create consistent habits, processes, and communication providing team members with stability.
- Uncertain Sandy. Sandy doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do. Her leader’s vision is muddy, scattered, and littered with lack of follow through. Sandy wants to be engaged and involved but is limited by uncertainty. Sandy needs clarity of vision and instruction. Muddled and fuzzy visions frustrate followers. Antidote—clarify visions and expectations making sure team members are on board.
- Apathetic Andy. Andy is on the verge of giving up. He’s grown apathetic and is beginning to embody the nature of his leader. Indecisiveness, maybe even laziness has created a careless culture. Andy needs a leader to inspire by his word and his work. Antidote—roll up your sleeves, act decisively, and get to work. Decisive action and working alongside others can be powerful motivation.
- Discouraged Don. Don may not be the product of poor leadership as much as he is a product of discouraging circumstances. Sustaining leadership encourages, instigates movement, and establishes stability. Don needs an encourager. Antidote—notice others’ work and service, send thank you notes, and state appreciation publicly. Every leader and every church will benefit from establishing a culture of encouragement.
Are there other types of characters created by poor leadership? What positive characters could be developed from quality leadership? Share your ideas in the comments.