In many churches, this is the time of year when pastors are settling into their new appointments, and congregations are learning to work with their new pastors. In other churches, people are starting to come back to worship. Across the board, committees are beginning to reconstitute, fall plans are being made, and activities are gearing up.
As you connect or reconnect with your people, and prepare for a season of ministry, you may stumble unwittingly into the three deadly sins of leadership. Although well-intentioned, these sins are deadly because they snuff out aliveness. Not only that, they generate unnecessary conflict.
Read on to discover the three deadly sins of leadership, their deadening effect, and how to keep calm in the midst of conflict.
Here are the three deadly sins of leadership.
Sin #1. Trying to be all things to all people. Wholesale people-pleasing never works. First, because it’s impossible to know what everyone needs. Second, because people won’t know the real you. Third, because it demands too much of you, and not enough of them.
Community is based on give and take. People-pleasing takes away the need for people to show up as they are, and to work through the challenges of being community. Anything less is deadening.
People-pleasing leads to internal conflict. Let’s say you give up your day off to attend to someone’s need. But the needs are never-ending. So, what’s next—your vacation time? If so, it won’t be long until you’re giving up your convictions.
The one who suffers the most will be you: you’ll be resentful, feeling taken advantage of. And it won’t be anyone’s fault but your own. People-pleasing is always a choice. Yet, it takes great strength of character, great emotional intelligence, to be true to ourselves.
Sin #2. Make no changes. Or change everything. Life is full of change; now more than ever. We are living in a time when the rate of change continues to accelerate. Pretending like you’ll never change anything is unwise and dishonest. Equally unwise and dishonest is acting as if everything in place needs to be scrapped.
When I began local church ministry, I abided by the rule to make no changes in the first year. What I didn’t know was that people were eager for me to make changes. They were tired of being stuck. When I was slow on the uptake, they grew more resigned, and more contentious. Following the rules was safe for me, but deadening for them.
Pacing change appropriately reduces resistance, eases conflict, and builds buy-in.
Sin #3. Assume your emotional or spiritual space is universal. For instance, just because you are arriving fresh and sassy, full of ideas and open to the Spirit, doesn’t mean that they are. Or just because you are tired and burned out, doesn’t mean they are. One of the challenges of pastoring a congregation of differing ages, personalities, and life experiences is that not everyone is in the same spot, ever.
Conflict comes when leaders don’t recognize the deep work that the Spirit has been doing in that place for generations. Or when they don’t pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit they are receiving. Either approach stymies the work of God.
Congregational Intelligence If sin is missing the mark, then salvation is collaborating with the Spirit. This collaboration takes courage, and resilience. It also requires trust in yourself, an ability to sense the Spirit, and an understanding of how to read and lead the people around you. Together, these qualities comprise what I call congregational intelligence. Finally, knowing how to self-regulate during conflict is essential.
Not sure how? Register for a free 45-minute webinar on “Keeping Calm in Conflict,” Noon Mountain Time on August 30.
In the meantime, notice what is happening in your spirit. Are you feeling less than alive? Deadened? Perhaps you have stumbled into practicing these leadership sins.