Discipleship Evangelization Making Church Matter

People-Pleasing Verses Leadership

August 6, 2016

I knew an enthusiastic pastor who came to a church that was brimming with potential. He had terrific ideas and couldn’t wait to get going. Fast-forward five years, he’s no longer there and all that potential remains untapped.

Ever wonder how your leadership potential gets crushed? It happens easily and more often than you might suppose. It happens in churchworld all the time.

Why? Because we pastors and church leaders are desperately afraid of rejection. In fact, we actually want to please everyone (as if such a goal were ever even possible).

But we try anyway. And often, in the process of trying, we compromise away from what’s best to what is merely possible, or back to what already is. And people still don’t like it, critics still complain. We revise our plans, retreat from a position of leadership, and regret the whole thing.

As pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof writes, “Being inoffensive ultimately makes you ineffective.”

It also puts you on a path to irrelevance.
That’s why far too many pastors end in a place where they are too afraid to be bold, try anything new, or even dream.

What does this look like?
• Worship music that is boring and bad enough to inspire no one, including the people who, for some reason, are in the pews and strangely want to keep it boring and bad.
• Mission statements so generalized they say absolutely nothing…and no one knows them.
• Unmotivated parish staff with low levels of commitment.
• Neglected, perhaps even dirty buildings.
• Stagnate or declining offertory income.
• Infighting, gossip, and a culture of complaint.
• A vision for the future that looks like the past.

So what do you do?
Pastor Nieuwhof goes on to suggest four things that can help a leader become an effective change agent.

1. Be bold.
The problem with incremental change is that it brings incremental results. Sometimes, probably every once in a while, you’ve got to be bold. Bolder change will bring bolder results.

2. Lead with humility
Being bold does not mean being arrogant, it is not license to offend. Leading from a place of humility can help you broker change far faster and more effectively.

3. Take the long view
A key difference between leaders who successfully navigate change and those who don’t is the ability to withstand the initial waves of criticism and complaint. The fact that some people don’t like your change is natural. Take the long view and realize this too shall pass.

4. Focus on who you want to reach,
not who you want to keep.
If you focus on the 10% of people who don’t like change, you will probably lose the thousands of people you can reach precisely by making those changes.

You can be a people-pleaser or a leader but you can’t be both.

For another take on this see careynieuwhof.com.

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