Many decisions in Christian leadership are tricky. This is especially so when the information you have to make those decisions includes sin and maturity issues.
Why? Because for people to understand the leadership’s decision, they would have to be given access to information they don’t need to know, information that is inappropriate they know. You’d have to gossip to them. Then they’d understand. They wouldn’t be angry about your decision then.
But if you’re not going to gossip (and you shouldn’t!!) then the only other option is to be content that people a) won’t understand, and b) might not be happy with your decision.
All you can do is ask them to trust you (and the team of people you have entrusted that info to) that you’ve made the best decision with the information you have – not the information they have.
A staff team is made up of different perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. A good team member will be aware of their own weaknesses, and the other’s strengths. And this will lead to good fighting based on strong trust.
I will want to hear my staff team’s opinions on things I’m doing because I know my weaknesses, and I trust they are not out for their own glory, for their own portfolio or to make me look bad. I don’t have I agree with them, and I might still argue my case. But that’s exactly what should happen.
At one level, of course it’s right. We trust God alone to effect change and give growth and value to all that we do.
But for that very same reason it can be bad advice. Because didn’t the God who you trust make you? And not just make you as a blank page, but he – by the power of his Spirit has given you gifts for the good of his church? That is, when you use your gifts, your talents, your particularities to serve God, aren’t you trusting in his goodness in that very work?
“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1Cor 4:7″
This is a great truth — not only to refute those who were boasting, but also to encourage those who shy away from using their gifts in some vain desire to avoid “trusting in themselves”. You have the gift from god, you received it. It’s not actually yours!
So, trust in your God given ability to make something happen, giving thanksgiving in your heart to God.
First, because it’s right. If you make a mistake, if you’ve had to change plans late in the game, if you hurt someone, if you say the wrong thing, swallow your pride and be honest about what you did. Its the good and right thing to do.
Second, because it actually builds trust. Many people think that acknowledging your mistakes will loose people’s trust. And to some extent, depending on the mistake you’ve made, that’s true. But that’s the effect of making a mistake.
But if people think you NEVER make mistakes, and they stop trusting you because you made one mistake… well, they probably never trusted you very much in the first place.
Most people, on the other hand, will appreciate that you told the truth. The very fact that you swallowed your pride, stood up and said, “I think I’ve made a mistake, we need to go in this direction” or “I think I’ve done the wrong thing here, I’m sorry and I wan’t to make it right”… they both have the effect of earning people’s trust, because you’re choosing to act in a trustworthy manner.
It’s worth being attune to the fact that some people have a tendency to be distrustful. The standard pattern goes something like this…
- they appear withdrawn
- you go and chat to them
- they say they don’t “feel” right about something vague they can’t really put their finger on
- you chat/convince/encourage them
- they say they feel much better
- they go along for a while seemingly ok
- they start to appear withdrawn
- you go and chat to them
- they don’t “feel” right about something, and they can’t see it’s the same vague thing they said before.
- and so on…
Thankfully, there’s not usually heaps of people who do this. But just know there are some and there’s little more you can do.
Chances are they’ve already changed from their previous church because they “never felt right”. And chances are they’re going to leave your church too, because it will never feel right.
Unless they see the problem is theirs, they’ll probably never find a long term church.
Great teams think highly of each other, trust each other, and are reluctant to jump on the bagging-out band-wagon when its aimed at their team mates. For example, even though I wasn’t the most liked guy on my rugby team (’cause I didn’t drink, do crack and sleep around), if I was ever threatened my team mates would come to my defence in a second (usually more overaggressive than required).
But, great teams don’t just put on a united front to the world. They also enter into real and deep conflict on the inside. Once the doors are closed and its just you and me, great teams take each other to task, they challenge, dispute, argue and fight for what they think is best.
And the key is keeping the right attitude in the right context.
If you start arguing with your rugby captain while he’s running with the ball towards the opposition, you’re an idiot. You put your issue aside and you be there for him no matter what. When you’re back in the locker room, and the other teams out of earshot, that’s when you have it out. And after you’ve had it out, you leave it there, in the locker room. You don’t bring it out again.
Then, if I know that you’re not going to attack me in public, well, then I’m all the more likely to trust you when you come to me with an issue in private.
My old IT boss use to say it like this… “X is X. If your partner tells the client X, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with X or not. X is X. You run with it, and change it later. Don’t undermine each other in front of the client. X is X.”
It’s impossible to assume nothing.
Either they have done what you’ve asked, or they haven’t
Either they know about the issue already, or they don’t
Either they are lying to you, or someone else is
Either they are planning on coming, or they are planning on skipping it
Either they understand what you’re talking about our they don’t
The fact is, you have to operate with some assumptions when you plan, when you preach, when you talk to people, when you lead a project.
But it matters which assumptions you act on…
You can either think the worst of people. This is called “accusing” them. or you can think the best of them. This is called “trusting” them.
I reckon the best thing to do is tell them you’re trusting them, and ask them if your trust is well placed.