This is a true story.
“If the Lord, Jesus Christ, came down out of Heaven to lead these people, it wouldn’t have been good enough,” the Pastor’s wife said to the Student Pastor as he was departing the church a little over a year after his celebrated arrival.
There had been meetings both large and small. Every time it seemed like things would get worked out. Communication would be had. The Pastor guided almost all of them, trying to bridge the gap. Eventually, he would give up and offer the young minister and his family a lifeline. He played a little politics, went to the Personnel Committee, and came up with a severance package.
Despite the Pastor’s recognition that some within the Student Ministry simply were not following their leader, he had some frustration with the Student Pastor, too. He hadn’t always been wise. Sometimes naive. Sometimes temperamental.
But the guy was under so much stress, constantly being undermined and picked apart in ways that no one could withstand.
But then he gave them so much ammunition.
Failed Leadership: A Mixed Bag
Failed leadership is always a mixed bag. Everyone bears some blame. Frequently, however, the failure becomes inevitable when some or all of the participants quit listening and refuse to bear any responsibility.
When everyone is still willing to work, to grow, to repent, to try… Well, frankly, leadership success is almost guaranteed, with a slight nod to the unforeseen catastrophe that no one but God could anticipate. If everyone comes to the table with humble and honest hearts, a willingness to work through what is stalling the team, and a passion for the task, how can that team be stopped?
Well a breakdown, of course. Here are a few things that can derail the team.
These can be found in either the leader or the team.
- A limit. Someone decides they’ve had enough and are no longer willing to work with the other person or persons. I have to admit that there is a time to stop, but that is when the other person is no longer trying. You can still lovingly part ways and be gracious. If, however, you are the one who gives up while everyone else is trying, then the fault is with you.
- A catastrophe. This would include a moral collapse, but not a mistake, or even a sin repented of, such as an unkind or thoughtless word. Be careful not to assign “moral failure” to someone who is no less righteous than yourself.
- Self righteousness. Speaking of people no less righteous than yourself, there are no people less righteous than you. We are all sinners. All rebellious. All unrighteous. When we come to the table with a belief that only the other person is to blame, it is only a matter of time before the gears grind to a halt and repair becomes impossible. They will never live up to the moving standard of slippery perfection set in the mind of the self righteous. No one can.
- Silence. It is not polite nor God honoring to be silent unless you can easily forgive and forget the fault of another. Since this frequently does NOT happen, bringing the issue out, in love and grace, is the only other option afforded the believer. Failure to address the issue will only lead to someone reaching their limit (see #1)
Any other ways that you can think of that would break down a team?