5 Ways to Benefit from Your Organization’s Best Asset

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Culture, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

Do you want to harness the greatest power in your organization? Are you benefiting from your organization’s best asset?

The organization’s best assets – whether a church, business or non-profit – never appear on your balance sheet.

The truth is any organization is only as good as the people within it. Take the greatest idea and put the wrong people behind it and little progress will be realized. With the right people – even average ideas can achieve tremendous results.

The key to success is to learn how to get the best ideas out of the people within the organization. It’s often been called Human Capital. Learning to glean from this valuable resource takes experience and intentionality.

Are you relying on the knowledge, insight and experience of everyone on your team to make the organization better? Do you understand and appreciate the human capital your team brings to the table?

5 ways to realize more potential from the organization’s best asset:

Brainstorm frequently – and let everyone participate.

Have times periodically where everyone on the team – or cross-representatives from different teams across the organization – get to give input into the organization’s future. It’s important to provide ways for even the most introverted on the team to share thoughts. Information shouldn’t be defined to a “chain of command”.

Plus, everyone has something they know better than leadership knows. The people doing the work usually have better input on how things can be done more efficiently and effectively.

Allow mistakes

Create an environment where team members are willing to take risks without fear of repercussion if things go wrong. This atmosphere is created with the leader’s instant reactions to mistakes made and is reinforced by how the organization learns from failure.

When people feel free to explore, take risks, and innovate they will enjoy doing so.

I once read 12 things discovered by making a mistake.

  • The slinky
  • Penicillin
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Potato chips
  • The pacemaker
  • Silly Putty
  • Microwave ovens
  • Fireworks
  • Corn flakes
  • Ink jet printers
  • Post it notes
  • X-rays

Now where would the world be without Silly Putty – right? Seriously, God has given us creative minds. What is your team trying, which could prove to be a mistake – but it could be genius?

Ask lots of questions

The best leaders ask the best questions. Genuinely seek help from those around you. Value the input of others. I like to follow others on the team when they are the expert in a subject.

Plus, sometimes, I ask questions not as much for the answer but to get people’s minds churning. It’s proven to be gold when those questions turn into new ideas and opportunities.

Don’t pre-define solutions

If you want help solving a problem or planning for the future, start with a clean slate, without having a pre-determined outcome when addressing an issue. I love a clean whiteboard at the start of a meeting.

If the leader always has the answer, team members are less likely to share their input. They’ll simply wait – holding out the best solutions at times – knowing the leader will trump them anyway.

Be open to change

New ideas never come in an attitude of control or when the goal is always protecting tradition. The leader must genuinely desire new ways of doing things and must lead others to the same mindset.

Everyone on the team knows if the leader is really considering other people’s opinions. If team member’s suggestions are never implemented, they eventually will stop sharing them.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

How This Introverted Pastor is Extroverted on Sunday

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 9 Comments

In my book “The Mythical Leader”, I have a whole chapter on introversion – mostly because every time I post about introversion I hear from pastors and church members who talk about how introversion negatively impacts their ministry. I have heard from well-meaning (hopefully well-meaning) people who don’t believe an introverted person can serve effectively as a pastor. But I have found this introverted pastor can be quite extroverted on Sunday. 

If there was a scale of 1 to 10 of introversion – I’m probably a 7 or 8. (I can be a 9 some days.) So, I understand the plight of my introverted pastor friends, and I don’t agree with those who think introversion prohibits one from serving in a senior role. (In fact, in my book, I share some thoughts on how I think it actually makes me a better leader in some ways.)

All that said, as pastors, the interaction we have with people is a key role in growing and leading the church. I’ve written numerous times that just because I’m introverted doesn’t mean I don’t love people.

I love people. Really. I love all kinds of people. One standard I have for my ministry is whether I’m loving the people who are difficult to love. So, I strive to do so. And, I especially love to help people get excited about what God is doing in their life. That motivates me.

My introversion, however, if I’m not careful, can keep me from interacting even with people I love.

The fact is, however, if you asked most people in the churches where I have served as pastor, other than those who know me really well, they are surprised I am an introvert based on my Sunday interactions with people.

I’m very extroverted on Sundays. 

The point of this post is to share a little of how do I do that.

4 ways this introverted pastor is extroverted on Sunday:

I am very intentional in my work.

I have to work at it. I’m not saying it is easy, but is anything worthwhile ever easy? I realize that Sunday is coming. Therefore, I plan my week around it. I intentionally plan introverted moments during my week.

For example, I am very careful what I plan for Saturday night, because I know I need to be at my best for Sunday. It is rare for me to schedule a large social gathering on Saturday nights. In fact, I’ve found Cheryl and my Saturday date days are the perfect preparation for an extroverted Sunday. (Obviously that’s easier for us now as empty-nesters, but I was equally protective of my Saturday night when we had children at home.)

When I can, I try to be out of the office at least one day a week. This helps with my sermon preparation, but also gives me “down” time. Interruptions will always come, but the more intentional I am with my calendar the more prepared I am when Sunday comes.

My family understands me and cooperates.

This is often the hardest one, because it obviously involves other people. The key for us is my family knows me as I know them. They understand Sunday takes so much out of me mentally and physically. My family realizes I need time to recover from a very extroverted Sunday. The ride to the restaurant for Sunday lunch is usually pretty quiet.

My family has learned if I have my introverted recovery time I’m more engaging with them the rest of the day. It is a way they partner with me in ministry. When our boys were home they knew I would intentionally give them some of the best part of my day, but they also knew there were times I would be quieter than others.

My family understands my introversion, but I don’t think they ever feel slighted because of it. And that is key. Part of intentionality here is I can’t always slight my family for my ministry. So, with Cheryl and my time now, and when our boys were home, we had time together where we were very extroverted.

One hint here is for introverted – and, frankly often for men – get them doing something if you want them to engage. Cheryl and I walk together and she would agree I am far more talkative on those walks than she is – and she’s the extrovert. All this takes communication and establishing expectations in relationships. That’s part of any healthy relationship.

I realize my extroversion on Sunday is for a purpose.

When I taught a very large Sunday school class (over 100 people), every week I’d leave the room as I was praying at the close of my lesson. It seemed the humble thing to do, and I was sincere in that, but honestly, it was the “safest” approach for this introvert.

When I came into ministry and was in my first church, I continued this practice. I would “escape” during my prayer to the back of the sanctuary. A dear older deacon came to my office one day and gently, in a very helpful way, said, “Ron, if as you’re praying you’ll walk to the vestibule and shake people’s hands as they leave, they’ll be more likely to return the next week.” I’ve been doing that ever since – and how right he was. One of the most frequent comments I receive from visitors is how they enjoyed meeting the pastor.

I can’t imagine it any other way now. Again, I love people, so even though this drains my energy – it fuels me for ministry. That deacon has since passed away, but I remain thankful for the wisdom he gave me.

I rely on the Holy Spirit.

The pastor who inspired me most in my spiritual walk when I was a 20-something year old trying to figure out my life direction emailed me once. He had read one of my introversion posts and wanted to echo the sentiments in it. In it he said he has always marveled at how many introverted pastors he has seen God call to lead in the church – even very large churches. He wrote, “I’ve been an introverted pastor of large churches for 39 years now. Before every service I’m saying the same thing, ‘God, I can’t do this – now what are you going to do about that?!'”

His humble surrender to God’s hand has shaped some powerful ministries under his leadership. I loved being able to email back to one of my mentors that I’ve had a similar prayer every Sunday – for a few less years.

Just as Moses, Gideon, and others led through what they felt would handicap them in following God’s call, introverted pastor, you can do this. With God’s help, an understanding family, and some hard, purposeful, intentional work – if God has called you to it, He will equip you. Surrender to His strength and will.

An introverted pastor can be extroverted on Sunday!

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

5 Words of Encouragement for Church Planters

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, God, Innovation, Jesus, Leadership | No Comments

Having been a church planter twice, I understand the unique challenges facing planters. They are constantly struggling with leadership issues, finances and simply knowing what to do next. I’d love to offer a word of encouragement for church planters.

Recently I had a conversation with a church planter friend in Chicago. He’s in hard soil to plant anyway, but mentioned that the pandemic has been especially hard on church planters. As a result, many of his fellow planters are flaming out as a result of the pressure from lack of funds, finding a place to meet, and having less fellowship.

My heart resonated with him as we spoke. Most of what I know in leadership has come from experience and the wisdom of others. I was blessed to lead a church during the pandemic, but it was indeed challenging.

5 words of encouragement for church planters:

Surround yourself with a few encouragers.

First, make sure you have people who speak regularly into your life. People outside the work you’re doing. Some days they’ll keep you going.

This friend mentioned that prior to the pandemic there was a more focused effort by others to bring church planters together for fellowship and encouragement. That hasn’t returned. Perhaps some of us that serve in larger, established churches can come together to be this support for church planters.

Seek your affirmation among the people God sent you to minister to.

This is great advice someone gave me. The reality is you will many times feel under-appreciated. You may not feel you’re doing any good. Also, you will second-guess yourself and your calling. When this happens, get back into helping the hurting people — the work, whatever it is — God called you to. Be recharged.

Everything great usually starts with a very humble beginning.

You know this or you wouldn’t be a planter. But this is true either in your personal humility or the humble beginnings of your work. Take your pick.

We all want the grand and instant success. Yet, that’s seldom the reality. Those who launch big often had enormous stories of previously being humbled. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah‬ ‭4‬:‭10

The more specific you are the more others can help.

Established churches have systems. Processes. Committees. Structure. You might even believe we have too many and that’s why you’re planting. We have budgets that have likely been approved long in advance. Private individuals like to give to specific causes and see immediate impact.

The more detailed you can be with what you need the easier it is to meet the need. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about money. Everyone knows you need it. Plus, don’t be surprised if help is more readily available in other ways – such as buying you a specific piece of equipment you need rather than simply writing an undesignated check.

Protect your soul — and your family.

Finally, you have to discipline to decompress. Paraphrasing Jesus: “Come to me all who are stretched, burnt-out, weary and heavy-burdened — I will give you refreshment for your soul.” Live this truth daily. Put it as a regular practice of your life. Unfortunately, no one is going to do this for you.

God bless you, planter, leader, friend.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

Leaders Grow as the Organization Grows

By | Change, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

Bad leadership is bad leadership. It’s usually easy to recognize.

It’s easier, however, to hide bad leadership in an organization, which isn’t growing. (I wrote recently that it’s easy to keep an organization small. Read that post HERE.)

The larger an organization becomes and the more growth, which occurs, the more bad leadership becomes apparent.

As an organization grows:

Read More

7 Encouragements for Worried Leaders

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | One Comment

Most leaders will have occasions of worry. Worry is an emotion. You can know all the principles of leadership and still struggle with occasional worry. I would love to offer some encouragements for worried leaders. 

I’ve talked to some who say at least one day a week they are consumed with anxiety and fear. It’s the kind of frustration which, left unchecked, makes them almost want to quit. I talked to a pastor not long ago that was struggling with stomach problems (I won’t get more graphic than that), because of the worry he is dealing with as a leader.

The fact you worry shows you are normal, human, and conscientious as a leader. You want to be successful and the natural reaction is to worry when you feel you may not be.

But emotions play tricks on us. They’re fickle and unreliable. Our desire to do well, causes our emotions to produce worry. Constant worry can destroy a good leader, because it will control how the leader responds to others.

Obviously, Jesus said, “Do not worry!” We probably know this truth, believe it and want to live it. So, what’s the practical side of Jesus’ command in leadership and how do we actually live out the command?

Here’s something you need to know – or may need reminding. Having a strong faith is no guarantee your emotions – worry – won’t play tricks on you at times.

All of us worry, but how you respond when you worry seems to control you as a leader?

7 encouragements for worried leaders:

Pray and Bible study.

You knew I’d say this, didn’t you? Worry is, by definition, a misplaced trust. Ultimately your answer is in God’s ability and His control, not your own. If worry is consistently plaguing your leadership, you need to fill your mind with truth through Bible study and prayer is step one.

Remember your purpose.

You have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. When worry hits you, you need grounding to something more permanent than your worries. You have a life purpose. Likely you believe in a vision. Hopefully you have some goals. You need to remember what fuels your fire and why you are willing to take the risk of leadership. If worry has gotten to the place where you’re not sure of your purpose anymore, stop everything and find it again. You can’t afford not to.

Contact an encouraging friend.

I always find other leaders can speak truth into my life just when I need it most. God uses relationships to strengthen us and make us better. I have to be bold enough to text a friend and say, “I could use some encouragement”, but I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve been that bold. If you don’t have someone like this in your life that’s your assignment. The goal is to find the person and build the relationship before you need them.

Review your track record.

Most likely you’ve had success which led to the position you have now. You can do it again. One reason I keep an encouragement file is so I can read through the positive things I’ve done on days when nothing seems positive.

Count your blessings.

And name them one by one. There are always others who would love to have what you have. Someone is always worse off than you are. Most likely, even outside the position you have as a leader, God has blessed your life. Spend some time remembering the good God has allowed you to experience. The list is probably longer than you think and will help you avoid worry as you recall what God has already given you.

Get some rest – and hydrate.

Worry is more present when you are tired. I’ve learned we are often dehydrated and it makes an impact on us physically and emotionally. You may have to quit for the day so you can prepare for better days. The depth of the worry should determine the length of the period of rest. I’ve also learned part of being fully “rested” also includes making sure you are as healthy as you can be by eating the right foods and exercising, especially during the busiest seasons of life.

Rationalize.

People who most need to rationalize hate this one, but most of the things we worry about never come true. Is your worry based on reality or based on your emotional assumptions? Dismiss the things you can’t control, aren’t certain will go wrong, or the unknown. The more you limit irrational thoughts, the less for which you’ll have to worry.

Let me also say that if you are suffering from serious anxiety – to the point of being depressed, that’s not what I’m addressing in this post. Don’t ever be afraid to get professional help.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

3 Ways Change has Changed

By | Change, Church, Leadership | One Comment

Change has changed. Have you noticed?

Of course, you have. It’s all around us. You might not have thought about it, but you’ve certainly experienced the result of the way change has changed. I first wrote these thoughts 9 years ago, and they are truer today.

Change is constant. Always has been. But, in my opinion, it appears change is unique these days.

Change has changed.

Here are 3 ways change has changed:

Change is faster. 

The speed of change has accelerated. A word that came to my attention in the last few years is profusion. I had it defined for me in the book “In Search of Balance”  as The generalized phenomenon of more.”  From technology, to clothing styles to the way we communicate, the pace of change is faster than ever before. Enough that I’ve done sermon series on how we should live in such a fast-changing world.

Less thought put into change. 

“Getting to market” seems more important than thinking through what you take to market these days. Social media has helped with that.

It’s bound to have an impact on quality. For example, I read articles in leading online magazines and newspapers with errors in them. That’s apparently acceptable now. The important thing is that new is introduced. At the current pace, it seems to me it would be impossible to put the research, design, and quality control into all the changes being introduced.

People are more accepting of change. 

Change appears to be more expected today than ever before in my lifetime. It’s almost anticipated. Again, I first penned these ideas 9 years ago, but a pandemic only solidified this one.

I’m not pretending it’s easier to lead once change is introduced. People still naturally resist change, but it’s almost an understood now that change is part of culture.

These are purely my observations. My question 9 years ago remains today –  as a church, since we have a message which can never be changed, how do we adapt to the way change has changed? We can’t change our message, yet we must reach a fast-changing society.

I have continued questions:

  • How should we adjust to the way change has changed?
  • Do we even try to keep up with the velocity and volume of change?
  • Are there ways the church should be changing as fast as the world?
  • Does it make our core mission – the simple truths – even more relevant today?

Nine years of thinking and I’ve not fully answered any of these questions.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 27 – Harsh Realities Leading Change

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Harsh Realities Leading Change.

Leading change is a part of leadership. You can’t lead without change, but it can be hard. Along the way of leading change – or attempting to – I’ve discovered some harsh realities.

If you are amid some “heavy-lifting” change leadership, see if some of these apply to you. And you may not know some of them are happening, but likely they are at some level. Knowing them can help you face the harsh reality and hopefully lead better.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss harsh realities leading change.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcasts. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

7 Reasons I Dislike Email Criticism

By | Church, Leadership | 2 Comments

As a pastor, I grew to dislike email criticism.

And I use the word dislike, but hate might even be the right word. I grew to hate email criticism.

I was talking to a new leader once. He had received a scathing email from someone. It was one of his first. And it was a doozy. Hard hitting. No grace. No value recognized for anything the leader has accomplished. Just the blasting. He was having a hard time letting it go. It impacted his ability to lead. He was beginning to question himself. (Pastors are human.)

I dislike the kind of email criticism that causes that.

Please understand, I’m not opposed to criticism. Plus, I think critical thinking is NOT always criticism. I’ve posted about it before and talked about how we as leaders should process criticism.

I may even consider anonymous criticism. I always felt there was a reason someone remained anonymous. Granted, in full disclosure and only my opinion, most of the time it’s because a person is coward to not sign their name. But, sometimes there are valid reasons for anonymity.

So, I’m not anti-criticism.

I am, however, except in rare circumstances, anti email criticism in the local church. At least how I often saw it being used with pastors. (I jokingly say I save all my negative emails – in case the FBI ever needed them for evidence.)

7 reasons I dislike email criticism:

It’s impossible to communicate emotion properly in an email.

Criticism always has an emotion attached. Always. Email can be so easily misconstrued what the emotion actually is when it’s written and not verbal. It can sting more than it should. It can emphasize — or de-emphasize more than it’s intended. Facial expression is ignored. It’s impossible to correctly display emotion in written form. I hate that.

Email makes it too easy to fire back a response.

With little thought, the send button is too easy to find, so before a person thinks, before they have time to pray, and before anyone can strategically plan out their response, they can too easily respond angrily or in emotion.

Email leaves people hanging in suspicion.

Have you ever received an email criticism, then you email back a response; perhaps apologizing or explaining yourself, and then you wait? And you wait. And wait. You may have actually answered their concern, they are fully satisfied, but you are still wondering if your email was even received. You don’t know. It creates fear and suspicion and it’s unfair. I hate that.

Email makes it easy to hide.

With email a person can make their slam, hit the send button and run. It’s really that easy. In the early days of church revitalization, when change was hard, I even had someone once create a fake email account to criticize and then close them so I couldn’t respond. In the days of online correspondence and social media, a computer screen makes for one of the easiest hiding places on earth.

Email is never completely private.

It’s too easy to forward an email, isn’t it? Or, what about the famous blind copy email? Ever been the recipient of one of those? Email starts a paper trail for something where usually no trail is even needed. It never goes away and can be brought back months and years later to be used against someone. That doesn’t seem very grace-giving to me.

Email invites misunderstanding.

Email removes the person being able to sit and ask questions. Can you tell me what you meant by that statement? That’s very difficult with an email. “So, what I hear you saying…” is one of the best tricks of a good listener. That’s virtually impossible with email. Email easily pours and stirs muddy water.

Email can make a minor issue into a major issue.

The issue may be small, but the fact someone took the time to place it in writing often elevates it in a leader’s mind. Granted, it may be what the critic wants, but is that even fair? If we aren’t careful, emailed issues may become weightier than the attention they deserve. I’ve even know email bullies who use email to unfairly elevate their own personal agenda. (And, they sometimes type in all caps.) I hate when that happens.

Those are just a few reasons I’m not a fan of email criticism.

I understand, there are times when email is the only way you can reach someone. I’m addressing this specifically in the local church context, but I realize in larger churches, such as the one I served, you may not always have instant access to the pastor. I get that.

So, in those cases I’d probably also ask myself a few questions.

  • Is the pastor the right (or the only person) I can speak to about my criticism.
  • Does the criticism come from a personal preference or a Biblical issue?
  • Is this representative or individual? In other words, are there more people who feel this way or is it probably just me?
  • Am I the right one to bring forward the criticism?

So, here is some advice.

If it’s going to cause suspicion, if it’s likely to be misunderstood, or if people are involved in the criticism (which is pretty common in my experience), before you send the email think critically. Ask yourself if email really is the right method to offer the criticism. Frankly, ask if the criticism is even necessary in the grand scheme of things.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

5 Deadly Sins of an Unhealthy Church

By | Church, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 2 Comments

In working with dozens of churches over the last 20 years, I’ve discovered some deadly sins of an unhealthy church. And I should clarify that and say these are deadly sins of church people.

I’m a walking testimony that the people who make up Christ’s church still sin. It is the result of who we are that we need a Savior.

I chose the word “deadly” intentionally. Of course, it’s a strong word, and I have no research behind my claim that if you have any of these your specific church will eventually die. I have been told a church on average will take 30 years to die if it remains in continual decline. But I can’t confirm that statistic either.

I do know many churches that are in decline. There are church buildings that once housed vibrant, growing churches, which  have been turned into a unique restaurant, office building or condominium. I’ve seen that. I have enjoyed some the food.

Again, I have worked with many churches and pastors in revitalization – as a pastor and a consultant. Those churches needed revitalization for a reason. They were in decline.

In each of these churches, I saw some – sometimes all – of these deadly sins. So, that’s my “research”.

Simply knowing these will not heal a church or help it grow again. My hope, however, is that the awareness helps you lead through them. In an upcoming post I’ll share the counter to this one. What are attributes that will bring health to a church and help it grow?

As pastor, when I encounter these in a church they become the subject of much of my teaching and leadership, since each of them have biblical implications. I am not afraid to challenge these head-on if needed; either directly with individuals or even with the congregation as a whole. They are too important not to address.

In fact, I’m not sure you will see much progress towards revitalization until there is some repentance or, at least, discontinuance of these deadly sins. 

Five deadly sins of an unhealthy church:

Apathy. As soon as a church stops caring for the mission of the church more than any other activity it has lost it’s way. The mission must come first.

To be clear, the mission is not  programs, systems or buildings. These are means to accomplish the mission. We should care for them and have the best we can offer. But they are secondary to the mission.

When the church cares more about the personal comfort of members and protecting the way things have always been done than it does about the broken and lostness of the community around them it has fallen into the deadly sin of apathy.

Pride. This may be the most often repeated sin I have seen in churches. It mostly occurs when a church has had success and then simply became comfortable. 

When pride takes over anything that is challenged in the church will cause people to become defensive. People will protect what they perceive to have built. “My grandmother donated that furniture. You can’t get rid of it.” (Actual statement I’ve heard and many similar.)

If I have to remind you from Scriptures how offensive pride is to God then we will need another post. There is too much biblical evidence for this short post.

Disunity. This unity is simply when the church is not unified it certainly could be around its mission, but most likely it’s disunited around lesser issues of importance. (I once witnessed a heated argument over the purchase of toilet paper. Do you buy it when you need it or do you buy it in bulk? Now that’s an important issue.)

By the way, this sin includes the dreaded passive aggression, and I’ve seen that one way too many times. It includes talking about people rather than talking to people. It’s choosing sides over nonessential issues, rather than coming together for the furtherance of the Gospel.

Judgemental attitudes. Jesus was constantly battling this one with the religious leaders of the day. When a church is more concerned about the sins outside the walls of the church than the ones inside it has fallen into legalism. I can imagine God will have a very hard time honoring that church.  It dishonors the Gospel for which Jesus came to share.

Disobedience. Without faith it is impossible to please God. When a church fails to walk by faith it is sinning against the original design God had for His people and His church.

On this one I suspect that many time the church has simply quit listening to the voice of God. When all the systems for doing church are in place and nothing new is being attempted you can do church without His intervention. It’s easy to stop asking for His help.

Is this too harsh of a post? I hope not. I trust calling sin – sin – is still acceptable to the Church these days. So, the question becomes whether you agree church people can fall into one of these. And, the greater question is whether your church has any of these.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

How to Stop Being a People-Pleasing Pastor or Leader

By | Church, Leadership, Organizational Leadership | No Comments

After a post about casualties of being a people-pleasing pastor, I received the following email asking how to stop:

Ron,

Have just finished your blog post “7 Casualties of a People Pleaser in Leadership“. I recognize I am a People-Pleasing Pastor. How do I turn the tide on this? How do I stop? I am seeing tension mounting on the team. There is frustration on our staff and it is even spilling over to our spouses, and my vision has hit a brick wall. I really want to move away from this but I am finding it most difficult.

Signed,

One frustrated pastor

Here was my reply how to stop people-pleasing:

Frustrated Pastor,

I’m impressed with your boldness and honesty.

Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

Get firm again on the vision you are trying to accomplish.

It appears you have one, but people-pleasing must be more important to you than accomplishing this vision. I’m not trying to sound harsh here, but that’s the reality. We tend to do what we value most. You must begin to value the vision more than making people happy. Make sure your vision is God-honoring and God-ordained – which I’m confident it is. When you are leading a church, obviously you want to do the will of God. He gives us latitude I believe, but we want to make sure whatever we do honors Him and gives Him glory. Be confident of this.

The vision is what should hold your feet to the fire. If it detracts or doesn’t line up with the vision God has given you, you shouldn’t be as enthusiastic about it – regardless of who brings it to you. This doesn’t mean you can’t say yes to other things, but you can clearly say, “I’m sorry, but right now I’m chasing this vision God has given me.”

Imagine the pressure Moses was under as a leader to please the people, but he had to hold to the vision God had given him and not cave to the pressure to always please people.

Get buy in with a team towards reaching the vision

You need a team around you committed to the same defined vision you have. Be careful who you surround yourself with here. Make sure they are people who are not self-serving, can see a bigger picture, and will protect your back should the need arise. We all need people who can and will back us up when we are tempted to give in and be a people pleaser.

When you recruit them, make sure they understand the vision and are committed to seeing it to completion. Be honest with your propensity to cave to pressure from others. Share with them your desire to complete the vision and given them permission to speak into your life when they see you pleasing people more than accomplishing the vision.

Assign responsibility and timelines

Give people real responsibility towards accomplishing the vision and measurable timelines toward achievement. This is hard for some pastors, but you have to release responsibility for decisions made. This process is vital, because it keeps tasks moving forward and therefore makes it easier and more palatable when you have to say no to other things. It’s hard to argue with success.

I often find it’s sometimes easier for someone closer to a task to say no to something new. For example, if a group wants us to start a new mission somewhere outside our focus area, the people who currently lead our mission efforts are often better at protecting the vision we’ve already set in place than I am. If I let those who lead in a specific area of ministry help make the decisions in their area, we will protect the vision more often.

Allow these same people to hold you accountable to sticking to these determined goals and objectives. You will be less likely to cave to people pressure if you know things are on track to reach the vision. I give people on my team the right to tell me when I’m veering from the vision we have before us.

Discipline yourself

The reality is, if you recognize people pleasing is a weakness in your leadership, you’ll have to discipline yourself away from it. This will take time. It probably has been a weakness for a while now, so don’t expect it to disappear immediately. When you sense you are making a decision purely to please others, give yourself a gut check. Put it in your schema. Tie a string around your finger if needed, but by practice and consistency, recall the bigger picture.

When needed, call in the trusted advisors again. Renew the passion for the vision again. Slowly, over time, you’ll find yourself better able to say no when needed so you can better realize the vision God has placed on your heart.

Those are my initial suggestions. I’m praying for you, Frustrated Pastor, but I’m believing you can do it. God has called you to it. He will equip you accordingly as you surrender to His will. And I suspect He’s already got a plan for your future as you continue to obey.

Blessings to you, pastor,

Ron

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