Editor’s note: I saw this on Facebook and knew it had to become an article. This is wisdom from Aaron Walsh on Leadership and how to treat leaders published with permission. Enjoy and be encouraged and inspired!
Just spent sometime over the weekend processing with a friend of mine who was contemplating resigning from his leadership role with the church. He loves what he does, he feels called by God and from the outside it appears that he is happy.
However as he opened his heart he revealed that the constant criticism from those he leads in the church is taking its toll. He feels like a failure and that what he does is never enough. He is weary and without divine intervention next week, he will quit. Sadly this story seems to be more and more common.
It begs the question: What are we doing to our leaders if they feel this way?
I understand that there are many leaders who have abused, controlled and hurt those in the body. However this is a very small minority, most of our leaders are really incredible people who care deeply about God and His people.
Below are 3 things that I have learned that have helped me serve those God has placed as leaders in my life. I have not done this perfectly over the years, if fact I cringe thinking of some of my responses. Hopefully, I have learned and grown and these lessons have been invaluable in that process.
1. No leader is perfect—I have had the privilege of walking with some amazing leaders over the years and one of the realities I quickly discovered is no leader is perfect. Even those we consider to be incredible all have blind-spots and flaws. They make bad decisions and inadvertently hurt people. They need grace when they fail and we must be able to offer forgiveness and trust even in the midst of their obvious weaknesses.
There is one perfect leader—His name is Jesus and the good news is he will return one day to lead. Until that point we will always serve under flawed men and woman. When failure has terminal consequences we end up creating a safe, predictable and boring leadership model. Permission to fail creates an environment where innovation, creativity and risk are present. An environment where these realities are present cause us to be the people of God we are meant to be.
After all a predictable church is an oxymoron to kingdom life. To those leading if you realize this and acknowledge you are not perfect and are still growing your will endear yourself to those you lead. Everyone knows your weaknesses so believing/pretending they don’t exist typically doesn’t get you much support and affection.
2. Leadership is not easy—All of us have had grand illusions of leadership. We imagine that we will make all the right decisions, we will hear God’s direction clearly and we will get full support from a people who adore us. Though this is true from time to time but often leadership is bearing a holy burden of responding to God and His people in a way that reflects His values and heart. To feel this responsibility is essential, no one wants to take their call flippantly but at times this can become overwhelming.
This means our leaders will sometimes have sleepless nights with anxiety and pain pondering/questioning whether they are actually doing this. It’s knowing that people have given their strength. loyalty and support and at times they don’t always know what to do or how to lead us forward. Decisions are not always black and white, in fact most of our leaders have to make decisions in the grey.
Decisions where many valid realities and facts exist and where any decision is likely to cause pain on one side or the other. We don’t have to agree with every decision they make in order to support them. To those leading know that God will lead His people inspite of you. He will talk to you, He will help you and He will lead you as you lead His people.
3. Leaders are lonely—One of the most surprising and common facets of leading is the regular torrent of discouragement that tries to attach itself to our leaders. This often results is the inability to see where victory has taken place and almost a fixation on where failure is present. Often our leaders only hear from us when something had happened that we don’t agree with and we are blind and silent when good leadership is present. This causes the hearts of our leaders to be wounded and an accompanying closing of their heart to the people they lead. They retreat into their own shell and isolate themselves in fear of further pain occurring. People are no longer the source of joy, strength and grace instead they become the source of pain, weariness and condemnation.
Lets change this. Let our words and actions become the antidote to the epidemic of discouragement that is destroying our leaders. Lets celebrate them, honor them and be vocal in encouragement.It’s one thing to think sometime good about someone, its another to say that to them. To those that are leading you are going to get wounded from time to time, it is not always nobel to continue. Take some time out and get healed. Don’t lead while you bleed.
I am weary of seeing amazing men and woman taken out by the above realities. I think the abuses of authority in previous generations may have contributed to a widespread mistrust and skepticism towards those who lead. Some of it is justified. But lets not throw away the biblical mandate to love, honor and care for our leaders.
They need us as much as we need them.
Take a moment and pray for your church leader whether it be a pastor or small group leader, or ministry leader. Ask God how you can bless them and serve them to the best of your abilities.