As we continue our series on the mistakes of rookie leaders, we’ve talked about how I underestimated spiritual warfare, or how I idealized that promotion, authority and resources would make my life simpler and happier. And if you’ve missed these lessons, go and read part one and part two now. But before I start with point number three, allow me to confess another sin. : )
Fifteen years ago, I used to be a much more impatient leader. Yet, every time our church hit a lid or went through transition I was so quick to complain abou the people around me.
I remember one time when our previous church had hit a transition moment. We weren’t growing (and hadn’t grown in a few years). Of course, I was convinced that the problem came down to “this leader” or “that leader.” And right when I was about to blame it on the “uncommitted people around me”…. I felt like the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart: “Peter, what if the Problem was YOU!”
You see: If I was Honest: Part of the reason why I was complaining was because, complaining is actually a technique for taking attention off of ourselves. Often times, it can even be a subconscious way of deflecting responsibility.
For example, every person has Four Relationship Dimensions they need to maintain. And here they are: (1). Those above. (2). Those beside. (3). Those below. (4). Yourself. For Example, those Above might be your boss, your department head, your upline; Those Beside might be your co-workers, siblings, peers; Those Below might be your employees, interns, followers; and the last dimension is Yourself.
But here’s the Insightful part: Whenever we hit transition moments… moments that stretch us; Or; run into a HUGE lack of time / financial margin / energy… In these situations: immature people almost entirely blame the first three dimensions.
For example, your schedule is overbooked and three of your key leaders call in sick. It’s easy to blame the 1st three dimensions: (1) “I keep telling My Boss I need a part time assistant!” (2). “My Fellow staff don’t help enough“… “I have the toughest area to recruit for.” Or, “those tech guys get all the money…” (which is true by the way!) (3). “My volunteers are so unreliable! ” But what about the fourth dimension: “I’m a terrible time manager / vision caster / recruiter?” What about…”I haven’t adequately adapted to my new season of life!”
You see: Immature staff pretend that other people have “ALL the power, time & resources” – while forgetting that we serve a God who is limitless. Besides, what rookie leaders don’t often think about is this: The only dimension you can REALLY control is the fourth. And equally important, if you whine about the other dimensions, in a very short period of time, you aren’t going to have a whole lot of friends.
Time after time I watch young leaders poison a perfectly good church environment. They enter into a season of stretching, and by the end, they either lose their job (as their coworkers or boss can’t stand them anymore); Or, they get so cynical that, they buy into the logic that uprooting their entire family to attend another church is the only option — only to find themselves at the bottom of another ladder at another imperfect church.
Don’t get me wrong: There are definitely times when God is calling people to get out of a negative church or job scenario. And if that’s you, I wrote an entire blog series on it …[click here]. But, don’t poison your God-given work-environment simply because you’re obsessing over the “wrong dimensions.”
“So Dear Heavenly Father: Help us to work on OURSELVES. Give us wisdom about how we can sharpen and serve those around us. Liberate us from passing blame and responsibility. For you have said: “[We] can do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”