How Do You Resolve the Tension of Enthusiasm vs. Oppression in Your Staff Position?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many naturally wired leaders and driven types rise to the helm of our churches. Each one is following the call of God in their lives and comes with a mixed bag of healthy leadership traits and “type-A” hang-ups.

That leaves you feeling the tension. Some days you are excited to be a part of something that is moving forward. Other days you may feel like you are working for a dictator who is building his own kingdom.

So what do you do when the primary unstated value of your ministry is “No growth, no glory!” How do you resolve the tension of enthusiasm vs. oppression?  You will probably never resolve it completely, but here are a few tips to help you keep sane and develop your own strengths as you lead.

#1: Cultivate your own progress orientation.  Believe it or not, you have a lot to learn from the healthy side of pr0active leadership. Remember, Jesus ran a lean-mean tight ship as the twelve-turned-seventy-two forged ahead city to city with urgency and focus. Where is God teaching you to cultivate a godly sense of urgency? Are you developing the willingness to take more initiative? How can you practice a bias for action even more?

#2: Tie all “push-back,” back to progress. It’s important to move past hasty disagreement or quick pushback. Don’t disagree out of emotion. It may be that you have better ideas. You may have key insights for sustainability and integrated efforts. You probably see the need a better system or process to define before launching the next ministry initiative.  The key is this: When you share you ideas or when you have to push-back, make sure you “connect the dots” back to progress. Don’t share your idea until you can demonstrate why it makes growth eventually better, stronger or faster. Many times I use the phrase “slow down to speed up” or “squat before you leap” to help a leader appreciate a season of “no new visible progress” in order to prepare for the next visible growth run.

#3 Play for pie even if your slice suffers. You must think big-picture as you manage your part of the organization. I was in a conversation yesterday with a leader who was struggling with a talented player who only sees his silo in the ministry. Nothing is more irritating for a leader who must steward progress for the whole organization. You will be surprised how this kind of thinking will come back to bless you. You attitude will not go unnoticed. Leaders desperately need “slice managers” who care about the pie.

#4 Create a scorecard that shows different forms of progress. There is probably something that you are passionate about that you lead pastor can’t real feel or see. The problem is not his passion. The problem is that you haven’t helped him see the progress of what you are excited about. What kind of scorecard or goal setting can you lead-up with? For example, a student pastor may take the time to show percentage growth in student camps over the last three years. Or if the student ministry is not numerically growing, you might show the growing percentage of students who are engaged in daily bible intake over the last 2 years.

#5 Let the weakness of others develop your convictions. There is no wasted experience in God’s economy, even in a culture that is unhealthy in it’s drivenness. The bottom line is that you will be in charge some day and that day is coming sooner that you think. You might not be the lead pastor, but you will have more responsibility and more people to care for. Now is the time to let those convictions stir. Don’t be afraid to name them as your personal values or your future team guidelines. In the end, having clearly stated values is the governor on how fast you pursue your vision.

What are you not willing to compromise in the character of the organization for the sake of progress?

Answering that question is the essence of  values-driven leadership.

Read more from Will here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >


Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >


What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.