Several years ago I read a book by Edwin Friedman titled A Failure of Nerve – Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. This is a book on the subject of leadership, and how well a leader differentiates himself from those he or she leads. This book speaks to one of the single most destructive attitudes in leadership – the attitude that says, “I need to be liked and I need you to be happy, with me especially.”
Local churches, 200churches for sure, find themselves with leaders who struggle in this area. Pastors want there to be unity and harmony in the church, at any cost. They do not want to rock the boat or anger anyone, to the end that they fail to move forward with any constructive plans or ideas. You should hear it from Edwin. I want to quote Friedman himself, in his own words:
“In any type of institution whatsoever, when a self-directed, imaginative, energetic, or creative member is being consistently frustrated and sabotaged rather than encouraged and supported, what will turn out to be true one hundred percent of the time, regardless of whether the disrupters are supervisors, subordinates, or peers, is that the person at the very top of that institution is a peace-monger. By that I mean a highly anxious risk-avoider, someone who is more concerned with good feelings than with progress, someone whose life revolves around the axis of consensus, a “middler,” someone who is so incapable of taking well-defined stands that his “disability” seems to be genetic, someone who functions as if she had been filleted of her backbone, someone who treats conflict or anxiety like mustard gas—one whiff, on goes the emotional gas mask, and he flits. Such leaders are often “nice,” if not charming.” (Edwin Friedman - A Failure of Nerve, p.14 Emphasis mine)
I believe that churches are filled with pastors who are peace-mongers! They treat conflict as though it were toxic and actually are nice, and charming. But they get nothing done, and cede leadership to the loudest voice and most obnoxious personality. They are
Do you like to be liked? Need to be liked? At all costs? Is harmony and unity your highest values, even at the expense of the mission, or at the expense of truth? Are you indecisive, not wanting to make the call? Are you just too nice? Is your niceness eviscerating your leadership?
Wednesday’s podcast, episode 28, is all about the positive virtues of conflict, and why you need conflict on your leadership team! You don’t want to miss this podcast. You need to embrace conflict and understand the good it will bring to your leadership team and your leadership.
Friedman’s book would also be a great buy for you. It literally changed my view of pastoral leadership, and caused me to make some calls I had been putting off for years. I am so glad I did!
When was the last time you punted instead of making the call and running the ball? When was the last time you got up the nerve and made the call – and what happened? Tell us in the comments section below.
Finally, join us on Wednesday for episode 28 of the 200churches Podcast. Subscribe to us on iTunes at 200churches Podcast.
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