Culturally Diverse Church in Raleigh, North Carolina

7th New Shepherds Orientation Workshop

We had a hard working group for the 7th New Shepherds Orientation Workshop. It was a beautiful drive around the Northern border of the Smokies the weekend of August 25-27. This is one of the most culturally diverse congregations I’ve visited. The Spanish and English worship together. Their website is in both English and Spanish. They have members from other nationalities as well. I asked one of the elders the different backgrounds of the members at Raleigh. He replied, “Honduras, El Salvador,  Ghana,  Nigeria.  And there’s even a Californian…now they are something else.”

This congregation is about fifteen years old and has recently appointed new shepherds. These men, their wives, the preacher, and his wife had done their homework. They were ready to discuss ways to be more effective in the Lord’s work.

As a result of suggestions at a previous workshop in Puyallup, Washington, we had more time for small groups to interact.

The men’s and women’s groups worked separately on a real situation in a real church and made observations and suggestions of how to improve the interaction of elders and their flock.

I gave the men an issue of someone wanting to modify the elders’ plan to do mission work when a brother with money had rather build an educational annex.

The ladies discussed issues that come with being the wife of an elder. This was especially helpful to the wives of the new elders.

We concluded Sunday morning with the Bible class, Leadership is a Gift, Not a Grind. During the worship, I discussed what Paul talked about and what they did at his last elders’ meeting with the overseers of the Ephesian church. Each elder shared a “mustard seed” he had learned during the workshop.

The elders, preachers, and wives of the Raleigh church: Bill and Beth Culverhouse, Elisha and Anne Marie Freeman, Glenn and Fran Holland, Allan and Barbara Johnson, Bob and Margaret Platt, Mac and Pamela Safley, and Scott and Carol Wollens.

Discussion Topics

  • What are guidelines to help us have a better discussion and workshop?
  • How can elders shepherd each other?
  • How will we grow together as a group?
  • How will we handle criticism?
  • What is a good plan to be sure we are adequately caring for all the sheep?
  • How can we deal with deacons and encourage them?
  • How will we develop as overseers as well as shepherds?
  • How will we oversee each other?
  • What can we do to keep important things from falling through the cracks?
  • Will we function as deacons and be called elders?
  • How can we prevent the development of a toxic “head elder”?
  • What is one thing we can do to prevent conflict and promote peace?
  • How will we evaluate the deacons, the ministers, and each other?
  • What are some ways we can have good communication with the congregation?
  • What are different kinds of meetings we should have to lead this church?
  • Who should select additional leaders in this congregation?
  • What is a good way to facilitate selection?

Workshop Characteristics

  • Include all shepherds, preachers, and wives.
  • Meet offsite — away from the building.
  • Include twelve hours of working time.

The Usual Schedule

Friday — 6:00-10:00 p.m.
Saturday — 8:00-12:00 a.m.; 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Sunday:
Bible class: When Leadership Is a Gift Instead of a Grind
Sermon at worship: What Do You Say at Your Last Elders’ Meeting?

Dates I have available today for 2018: a weekend (Friday night, Saturday, Sunday morning) in April, May, September, October, November.

What questions or observations do you have about the New Shepherds Orientation Workshop?

Please leave a comment by ...... clicking here.

Excited and Growing Church in Washington State

6th New Shepherds Orientation Workshop

The sixth New Shepherds Orientation Workshop was with the Puyallup Church of Christ in Puyallup, Washington. We had the training sessions in the Holiday Inn Express in Seattle, Washington.

I was touched and encouraged. Although two of the elders were involved in deaths close to them, they were present for most of the training. One was preaching the funeral for a close friend of many years. The other’s brother had died.

[tweetthis]This church is alive and well! They are growing.[/tweetthis]

Their building fund is increasing each week. Children are bringing their change for the new building and had donated $135.00+ the previous two weeks. We saw crowded seating and an overflowing parking lot. They are looking for more property where they can relocate.

Their building fund is increasing each week. Children are bringing their change for the new building and had donated $135.00+ the previous two weeks. We saw crowded seating and an overflowing parking lot. They are looking for more property where they can relocate.

Mark Jamieson, their preacher, told me they are within 1% of having the national average of age groups and generations. Yes, they have millennials.

Not only are they present, but they are also excited about doing the Lord’s work. Gail and I were there on potluck Sunday and were able to talk with many of the Christians.

The church has recently appointed seven new deacons. I was asked to lead opening prayer of the first elders and deacons meeting for the new group.

[tweetthis]Shepherds of this church are committed to letting the deacons deak. They are caring for the sheep.[/tweetthis]

This workshop is the second one I’ve led where everyone stayed together in the same building. Although Puyallup is only a twenty-minute drive from the Hotel, they decided to stay on site. It worked well.

The elders, preacher, and wives are Chris and Jolene Bartlett, Mark and Suzy Jamieson, Gene and Carolyn McCaul, Bob and Diane Sallee, Ken and Sandy Wilson.

I am scheduling workshops for 2018.

Some of the topics we discuss are:

  • What are guidelines to help us have a better discussion and workshop?
  • How can elders shepherd each other?
  • How will we grow together as a group?
  • How will we handle criticism?
  • What is a good plan to be sure we are caring adequately for all the sheep?
  • How can we deal with deacons and encourage them?
  • How will we develop as overseers as well as shepherds?
  • How will we oversee each other?
  • What can we do to keep important things from falling through the cracks?
  • Will we function as deacons and be called elders?
  • How can we prevent the development of a toxic “head elder”?
  • What is one thing we can do to prevent conflict and promote peace?
  • How will we evaluate the deacons, the ministers, and each other?
  • What are some ways we can have good communication with the congregation?
  • What are different kinds of meetings we should have to lead this church?
  • Who should select additional leaders in this congregation?
  • What is a good way to facilitate selection?

The workshop should:

  • Include all shepherds, preachers, and wives.
  • Meet offsite — away from the building.
  • Include twelve hours of working time.

The usual schedule:

Friday — 6:00-10:00 p.m.
Saturday — 8:00-12:00 a.m.; 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Sunday:
Bible class: When Leadership Is a Gift Instead of a Grind
Sermon at worship: What Do You Say at Your Last Elders’ Meeting?

Dates I have available today for 2018: a weekend (Friday night, Saturday, Sunday morning) in March, April, May, September, October, November.

What questions or observations do you have about New Shepherds Orientation Workshops?

Please leave a comment by ...... clicking here.

New Shepherds Orientation Workshop, Smyrna, Tennessee

5th NSO Workshop

The fifth New Shepherds Orientation Workshop was conducted with the elders, ministers, and spouses of the Smyrna Church of Christ, Smyrna, Tennessee, February 23-25. We met at NHC in Murfreesboro Friday night and Saturday. We enjoyed a delicious meal together at The Chop House Saturday night after closing the workshop at 5:00.

I stayed over Saturday night, taught the Bible class and preached at worship on Sunday.

Thanks to Chad Landman for his work in the layout and design of the workshop book.

The topics:
Bible class: Leadership in the Lord’s Church Is a Gift — Not a Grind
Worship: What Do You Say in Your Last Elders’ Meeting? This is graduation from the workshop for the shepherds.

I was encouraged by the training these leaders had in the past, the focus they maintained wanting to improve in being shepherds, and their enthusiastic participation during the entire workshop.

The elders, ministers, and spouses of the Smyrna Church of Christ: Bill and Shirley Cato, Todd and Nina Foutch, David and Lynette Henderson, Gary and Lisa Hickerson, Bill and Pam Jordan, Tim and Sally Lavender, Paul and Pam Lewis, Rob and Jen Hartman, Bill and Sue Townes, Aaron and Chelsea Tremblay, Kristie and Jason Waldron, James and Jane Watson.

The Trash Can is always available for any suggestion you don’t want to take home.

Topics we discussed:

  • How can elders shepherd each other?
  • How will we grow together as a group?
  • How will we handle criticism?
  • What is a good plan to be sure we’re caring for all sheep?
  • How can we relate to deacons and encourage them?
  • How will we develop as overseers as well as shepherds?
  • How will we oversee each other?
  • What can we do to keep important things from falling through the cracks?
  • Will we function as deacons and be called elders?
  • When there isn’t unanimous consent on an issue, will we have minority or majority rule?
  • How can we prevent the development of a toxic “head elder”?
  • What’s one thing we can do to prevent conflict and promote peace?
  • How will we evaluate, encourage, and build up deacons, preachers, and each other?
  • How should an elder’s wife respond to criticism of her husband?
  • What should she do when people want her to deliver messages to her husband?
  • How can the shepherd’s wife and other Christians minimize gossip in the congregation?
  • What will we do to develop dedicated disciples of Jesus who will serve as shepherds and deacons in the future?
  • What are some ways we can have good communication with the congregation?
  • What are different kinds of meetings we should have to lead and shepherd this church?
  • Who should select additional leaders in this congregation?
  • What’s a good way to facilitate selection?
  • How will we encourage and express gratitude to members of the congregation?

Eating together adds a dimenstion we don’t get in our regular meetings.

My Recommendations for a New Shepherds Orientation Workshop

  1. Involve all elders, preachers, and wives.
  2. Meet offsite — away from the church building.
  3. Work twelve hours together.
  4. Sunday morning Bible study.
  5. Sunday sermon.

I have time for a limited number of workshops in 2018. If you have an interest or would like to ask questions, please contact me:

Cell: (615) 584-0512

Email: jerrie@barberclippings.com

What would you like to see included in an orientation workshop for new shepherds and encouragement for seasoned shepherds?

Please leave a comment by ...... clicking here.

Should Decisions Be by Minority or Majority?

when everyone doesn’t agree, how do you make a decision?

We value unity. We believe in consensus. We have unanimity on every decision. We never make a decision unless everyone is in agreement.”

The way it’s been presented to me: it’s more spiritual to have consensus, every person agreeing on every decision, than to go with the majority when one or two hold a contrary view.

[tweetthis]It’s my observation each eldership has a majority or minority rule.[/tweetthis]

Either the group works with the judgment of the most — they make their choice on the wisdom of the majority — or they surrender to the opinion of the least. They have minority rule.

I’ve seen it in elderships of three, five, and seven. An issue has been discussed and debated. They’ve prayed and asked God for wisdom. Each man had an opportunity to express his views. They gave their reasons for and against the topic. Perhaps it’s been on the agenda for several meetings.

It’s time to make a decision. All but one says it’d be best for the church to move on this issue. One elder is set against the proposal and shows no sign of changing his mind. What happens next?

Let’s suppose we’re observing the eldership of seven. Here are some questions:

  1. Does one with the contrary view have more wisdom than the combined wisdom of the other six? Who arrived at that conclusion? Whose wisdom determined one person has better judgment than six other elders?
  2. Is it the same person each time? How long has he been setting or stalling the course of this church?
  3. What action is this one person starting or stopping by overruling the other six?
    1. Failing to send a missionary?
    2. Not starting a plan of outreach that might touch many people?
    3. Failing to provide more resources to carry out the mission of this congregation?
    4. Prohibiting making contact or continuing discipline for a wayward sheep?
  4. Who came up with the principle it’s more spiritual to let one or two elders set the direction of the church than to go with the majority of the eldership?

“But, we must have unity. We must speak as one to the congregation.”

I think there’s strength in a united voice in leading a group.

[tweetthis]Is it necessary for the majority to surrender to the minority to produce unity?[/tweetthis]

I read of a church with a rule to deal with this tension. When a matter came before the elders, they thoroughly discussed it. They presented reasons for and against the proposal. If they needed more research, they did it.

When they had all the information they needed to decide, they voted. If there were one or more in the minority, they immediately took another vote. According to their operating procedure, those in the minority could either vote with the majority, giving a consensus, or they could resign their position. Then when they stood before the congregation, they could honestly say, “Here is our decision and it was unanimous.” They had learned and applied the principle: not everyone gets his way, but everyone gets his say.

What have you seen with majority-minority rules in elders’ decisions?
Please comment below:

Have You Been to an Eldership Funeral?

death precedes resurrection

We were anticipating more leadership in the congregation. In a few weeks, we looked forward to completing the selection process, and appointing a new shepherd or two. I asked the elders if they were planning an eldership funeral. They hadn’t thought about that.

I explained. It was my observation that often when new elders are appointed, you don’t get new elders. You get junior elders, trainees. They’re expected to do everything just as it’s always been done. If there’s conflict in the eldership, the new men will be recruited to be on each side.

[tweetthis]Often when new elders are appointed, you don’t get new elders. You get junior elders, trainees.[/tweetthis]

Also, when new elders are appointed, there aren’t just new elders, there is a new eldership. If you have a beaker with a chemical in it, and you place one drop of another chemical in it, you don’t just have another drop of stuff, you have a new compound.

[tweetthis]When new elders are appointed, there aren’t just new elders, there is a new eldership.[/tweetthis]

Any time there’s a change in a leadership group (one or more leave, one or more are added, one or more have a significant change in family, job, or health status), you have a new leadership group.

I thought it would be good to acknowledge that, learn from it, and start with a new group. It was one of those ideas I gave for consideration not knowing if it would be considered or delegated to the waste basket.

The next month, the elders said, “We’ve discussed the eldership funeral. We want to have one and we want you to preach it.”

People often ask, “What do you do at an eldership funeral?” — same thing you do at other funerals: stand around the casket, talk about the deceased, recall their good traits, and talk about how we’ll make it without them.

We went to a log cabin in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, on a Friday night, and had a three-hour funeral.

After going over Guidelines for a Good Discussion, which you can have in an eBook by subscribing to this blog (Subscribe), we began the funeral.

This was a parable of what was happening to the present eldership. Everything Jesus taught was in parables (Mark 4:33, 34). If you don’t like a preacher or teacher who tells stories, you don’t like Jesus because “He did not tell them anything without using stories” (Mark 4:34, CEV). We noted and discussed Paul’s emphasis on the gospel — death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We wanted to follow Jesus’ example of preparing His disciples for His death (Matthew 16:21-26). We observed the advantage of funerals. Solomon said it’s better to go to a funeral than to go to a party (Ecclesiastes 7:1-10). We read funeral passages. A Word and PDF document of the outline are available:

Eldership Funeral PDF

Eldership Funeral Word

We recalled the history of this group of leaders. They became shepherds during a difficult time in the history of the congregation. Not one of them had ever served as an overseer. Every situation was new to them. They were dealing with a congregation hurt and unsettled because of sustained conflict. They had led well. The conflict had subsided. There was peace. Read about the process: Starting from Scratch.

We “stood around the casket” and talked about this eldership, recalling early fears, discussing how they became a team, and how they were as a group. If a group of elders has unfinished business, it will be transferred to the new elders being appointed.

Our attention turned to the additional leadership soon to be appointed. How would they be integrated? Would they be told the rules? Often a group’s rules are unconscious, unspoken, but understood. We don’t think about them, don’t discuss them, but if you break them, you are in serious trouble! As they considered this, they said, “They can change some rules, but some they can’t.” The came up with two lists of rules: negotiable and non-negotiable. Read about this: Shepherds, What Are your Rules?

I enjoyed the night. We celebrated how God had worked with these men during a difficult time The church had grown and matured. They had survived the storm and were enjoying the sunshine.

Our next topics:

  • What hopes and dreams do you have?
  • How will you communicate these to each other, to the new elders, and to the congregation?

We concluded with the Five Tasks of Dying — how to end any relationship:

  1. Forgive me.
  2. I forgive you.
  3. I love you.
  4. Thank you.
  5. Good-bye.

I’ve “preached the funeral” of four elderships where I’ve worked, including one interim congregation, and officiated at one funeral at the beginning of a New Shepherds Orientation Workshop. I think it’s healthy to discuss these issues.

Many people get excited over resurrection. Fewer want to volunteer for crucifixion. However, death precedes resurrection.

[tweetthis]Many people get excited over resurrection. Fewer want to volunteer for crucifixion.[/tweetthis]

For copies of the outline, click the links:

Eldership Funeral PDF

Eldership Funeral Word

What have you observed in a good transition when new leadership comes into a group?
Please comment below:

A Planned Program of Shepherd Development

New Shepherds Orientation Workshop, West Fayetteville Church of Christ

Jerrie, We’ve just appointed five elders. Four of those have never served as a shepherd of God’s people. Do you think you could lead a workshop to help them in beginning this work?” The phone call arranged a weekend with the congregation’s elders and wives in Gatlinburg November 1, 2, 2013. That phone call was the beginning of New Shepherds Orientation Workshops and New Shepherds Orientation website and blog. I’ve led similar events for three other congregations since then.

The most recent workshop was with West Fayetteville Church of Christ, in Fayetteville, Tennessee, July 15, 16. We met at Hampton Inn in Fayetteville, starting at 4:00 p.m. Friday afternoon and stopping at 10:00 p.m. We worked six more hours on Saturday. The shepherds, their wives, preacher, and his wife were in the workshop.

[tweetthis]Most recent NSO workshop was with West Fayetteville Church of Christ July 15, 16.[/tweetthis]

NSO WF 5A question arises, “Why do you ask wives to be present? Do you believe women should serve as elders?”

No. Women don’t serve as elders since they can’t meet the qualifications or prerequisites described in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. That would place them in authority over a man as forbidden in 1 Timothy 2:12.

However, because they aren’t appointed as shepherds of the flock doesn’t mean can’t contribute to the effectiveness of their husbands who are appointed.

My observations:NSO WF 760 2

  • A man can be an ineffective elder with or without a good wife.
  • A man can’t be an effective elder with an unsympathetic, nonsupporting, ineffective, or gossiping wife.
  • The better understanding his wife has of her husband’s role, responsibilities, rewards, and commitment to confidentiality the more she’ll be able to support, encourage him, and minister with him.

We discuss how a wife should respond to criticism of her husband. What should she do when people want her to deliver messages to her husband? How can the shepherd’s wife and other Christians minimize gossip in the congregation?

[tweetthis]A man can’t be an effective shepherd with an unsympathetic, nonsupporting, ineffective, or gossiping wife.[/tweetthis]

Topics we discussed:

  • How can elders shepherd each other?NSO WF 760 3
  • How will we grow together as a group?
  • How will we handle criticism?
  • What is a good plan to be sure we’re caring for all sheep?
  • How can we relate to deacons and encourage them?
  • How will we develop as overseers as well as shepherds?
  • How will we oversee each other?
  • What can we do to keep important things from falling through the cracks?
  • Will we function as deacons and be called elders?
  • When there isn’t unanimous consent on an issue, will we have minority or majority rule?
  • How can we prevent the development of a toxic “head elder”?
  • What’s one thing we can do to prevent conflict and promote peace?
  • How will we evaluate, encourage, and build up deacons, preachers, and each other?
  • What will we do to develop dedicated disciples of Jesus who will serve as shepherds and deacons in the future?
  • What are some ways we can have good communication with the congregation?
  • What are different kinds of meetings we should have to lead and shepherd this church?
  • Who should select additional leaders in this congregation?
  • What’s a good way to facilitate selection?
  • How will we encourage and express gratitude to members of the congregation?

My Recommendations for a New Shepherds Orientation Workshop:

  1. Involve all elders, preachers, and wives.NSO WF 4
  2. Meet offsite — away from the church building.
  3. Work twelve hours together.

I have time for a limited number of workshops in 2017. If you have an interest or would like to ask questions, please contact me:

Tel. (615) 584-0512

Email: jerrie@barberclippings.com

Please read comments over the next few months in the sidebar from those who participated.

What would you like to see included in an orientation for new shepherds and encouragement for seasoned shepherds?
Please comment below:

Starting from Scratch

first year of shepherds who had never served before

When new shepherds are appointed, they usually go by former shepherds’ rules which are often unconscious, unspoken, but understood. A pattern has been set about agendas (or lack of), who speaks when, prayers (number and time), how the group makes decisions, and how much deacons’ work elders do. Orientation is usually coming to the first elders’ meeting, watching, listening, and imitating.

But what happens when there are no former elders in the first elders’ meeting?

We had been in the Fuss of ’95. On Fathers’ Day, two of our three elders resigned, leaving the congregation without an eldership. The men appointed a process committee to suggest how to appoint elders. After the document was tweaked and approved by the men, a selection committee was appointed to implement the process.

November 19, 1995, we ordained four men as elders. Not one had ever served a day in his life.

How do you do it when it’s not fixed — when there’s no one to tell you how to do it?

Three Principles I Saw Them Put in Place

  1. Don’t be in a hurry. One of the new elders read an article stating it takes about five years to get over a divorce. He said, “We’ve been through a divorce in our congregation. People have been upset. Several left unhappy. It’ll take time to develop trust in the congregation and heal as a church.” When they accepted the reality they wouldn’t have everything fixed by Christmas, it left them free to decide how to begin and continue as a leadership group. Margaret Marcuson, in a book on family systems, agrees with the time principle: “Change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. As a pastor, I developed a mantra: ‘Everything takes five years.’ Substantial developments in congregational life, the kind that will last, take even longer” (Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry, by Margaret J. Marcuson, Copyright © 2009 by Margaret J. Marcuson, page 30).
  2. For the first year, we’ll study what the Bible teaches about shepherds and practice what we learn. They wanted to be guided by God’s word in the function of the eldership.
  3. For the first year, we want to learn how to get along with each other. They’d seen what happened when elders didn’t communicate and have close, trusting relationships in the group.

Those were their goals.

When leaders set goals, someone(s) will try to sabotage their plans. That happened quickly.

Soon after they were appointed, people approached the elders and said, “We need to appoint deacons.”

[tweetthis]When leaders set goals, someone(s) will try to sabotage their plans. [/tweetthis]

The reply of the new shepherds: “For the first year, we’ll study what the Bible teaches about shepherds and practice what we learn. For the first year, we want to learn how to get along with each other.”

In the spring, a group approached the new elders and asked, “What are you going to do about Vacation Bible School?”.

Their reply, “We aren’t going to do anything about Vacation Bible School. For the first year, we’ll study what the Bible teaches about shepherds and practice what we learn. For the first year, we want to learn how to get along with each other. If you’d like to do something about Vacation Bible School, bring us a proposal and we’ll talk with you about it.”

We didn’t have Vacation Bible School in 1996. I’ve often observed that some of the best things those elders did were the things they didn’t do. They stayed focused on defining themselves individually and as a leadership group according to their study of scripture.

When the year was up, they started a process of leading the congregation in selecting and appointing deacons. They proceeded with continuing to lead the congregation where they thought the Lord wanted them to go. They were effective and continued with excellent servant leadership.

My Observations

  1. They took time to look at themselves and their growth first before telling the church what to do.
  2. They started with the Bible, not the way it had always been done.
  3. They refused to be sidetracked by every request of every person who had an idea of what needed to be done.
  4. They stayed focused on a good objective until it was completed.

I saw it work. The congregation healed and started growing again. The congregation began to follow the attitude of their leaders.

What if a group of shepherds reevaluated every five to seven years? What if they studied the Bible and said, “We want to do what God tells shepherds to do — not what we’ve always done?”

What if — instead of using the ready-mixed — they started from scratch and went by the Biblical recipe?

[tweetthis]What if a group of shepherds reevaluated every five to seven years?[/tweetthis]

It’s something to consider.

What have you seen elders do to be more focused on their responsibilities as shepherds and overseers?
Please comment below:

When Conflict Is Healthy — The Advantage (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012)

Organizational health is the topic is this book. For a group to be healthy, there must be honesty, integrity. When that is present, permission for healthy conflict is part of the group’s operating rules.

Some Christians have equated different ideas and perspectives with a lack of spirituality. This opens the door to what we see in many leadership groups: politics, frozen momentum, helplessness, and hopelessness. No one can consistently communicate his best ideas without sometimes disagreeing with someone else. And so they don’t. As a result, the most overbearing or the most influential person (often for the wrong reasons) rules the group.

I hope the following “mustard seeds” will encourage you to buy the book, digest it, and discuss it in your group to improve the health of your leadership team.

[All page numbers are from the Kindle edition.]

The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.” (page 27).

When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only okay but desirable. Conflict without trust, however, is politics, an attempt to manipulate others in order to win an argument regardless of the truth. (page 38).

Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind. (page 44).

The only way to prevent passive sabotage is for leaders to demand conflict from their team members and to let them know that they are going to be held accountable for doing whatever the team ultimately decides. (page 51).

There are a few critical keys to making staff meetings work, many of which I’ve already discussed in this book. For instance, if there are too many people on a team, or if the people in the room don’t trust each other and aren’t willing to engage in productive conflict, then no matter how you reorganize your meetings you won’t see much impact. (page 178).

When it comes to building a cohesive team, leaders must drive the process even when their direct reports are less than excited about it initially. And they must be the first to do the hardest things, like demonstrating vulnerability, provoking conflict, confronting people about their behavior, or calling their direct reports out when they’re putting themselves ahead of the team. (page 191).

Whose Heart Attack Is Most Important?

what doesn’t work in dealing with manipulators

He was the most powerful “head elder” I’ve ever met in more than five decades of preaching. When a meeting wasn’t going his way, he’d say, “Well, it’s time to go out and greet the people.” (We met before services.) Without a word, the rest of the elders rose and followed him out of the room without question or comment. If someone made a suggestion he didn’t like earlier in the meeting, he’d say, “When “you boys” get as old as I am, you’ll understand we can’t do things that way.” And that was the end of that.

It was the most depressing time of my ministry. We were stuck, and there was no way out with that kind of leadership. We were going to do things the way we’d always done them because that’s the way we’d always done it. Any class, project, program, or special emphasis was defeated before it was started.

One night after services, an elder started talking with me: “Jerrie, I know it must be discouraging for you. I know we shouldn’t let things keep going on this way. I know we shouldn’t let brother John Doe defeat everything. But I don’t think I can go against him. You know, he’s already had one heart attack. And I’m afraid if we didn’t go along with him he might have another heart attack. I just don’t think I could live with myself if we resisted him and he had a heart attack and died the next day.”

My reply: “Have you ever known of a man forty-six years old having a heart attack?”

Elder: “Yes.”

My response: “Why is his heart attack more important than my heart attack?”

[tweetthis]Why is his heart attack more important than my heart attack?[/tweetthis]

What did I learn from that?

  • This head elder got much of his power from acts of service years before. Some people said, “This man and his family helped us, gave us food during the depression.” That’s the way to be great in the kingdom. (Matthew 20:26-28) However, he used good will to dominate the leadership group.
  • All blame doesn’t go to the head elder. If a situation is chronic in a group, it’s because everybody likes it the way it is more than what it would take to change it. He didn’t dominate without permission from half-dozen other men who wore the title of elder. They cooperated with him to be dominated. Isaiah wrote:

But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you,
Who have said to you,
“Lie down, that we may walk over you.”
And you have laid your body like the ground,
And as the street, for those who walk over (Isaiah 51:23, NKJV).

When someone tells me, “People are always running over me,” I ask, “When did you lie down?”.

[tweetthis]“People are always running over me.”
“When did you lie down?”[/tweetthis]

  • Strong leaders need to check often about how they’re coming across. They have the choice in not exercising all the power they have to invite other people to express their views and supply their leadership. This virtue is called self-control.
  • When one operates out of fear of what might happen — heart attack, suicide, nervous breakdown, or anger explosion — he doesn’t serve the person or the group well. That kind of manipulation and agreement to be controlled isn’t exhibiting the spirit of Jesus.

How have you dealt with toxic head elders?
How have you dealt with your tendency to become the head elder?
Please comment below:

Preventing Leadership Suicide:

we never saw it coming!

I hereby resign as a…of this congregation — effective immediately! There may be a nod of the head, his wife rises, and they exit the back door. Or a gasp when even his wife didn’t know it was coming. I’ve observed or heard of it happening from elders, deacons, and preachers. Without discussion or planning, an angry or discouraged leader expresses his frustration by leaving without warning.

There’s damage to those left behind after a suicide.

  1. Shock. (What’s going on in this person’s life and/or with our relationship?)
  2. Grief. (How will we make it without this person’s leadership? I don’t know if we can go on without him.)
  3. Guilt. (I wonder if he did that because of something I said or did?)
  4. Anger. (How could he do that? He took the easy way out. He left in the middle of problems he helped create.)
  5. Deterioration of trust in the remaining leaders. (If he did this when I didn’t see it coming, who will be next?)[tweetthis]There’s damage to those left behind after a suicide.[/tweetthis]

When you know you have a terminal illness, it is kind, loving, and helpful to discuss your departure with those close to you. Observe Jesus:

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21, NKJV).

Jesus repeated this statement over and over and over. Even though there was a lack of faith and desertion of His disciples, Jesus didn’t disappear back to heaven saying, “Now they’ll miss me when I’m gone.”

In contrast, He continued to prepare His followers for His departure and provide for their strength and encouragement after He left.

I recommend that leaders have a “no suicide contract.” Each leader commits to a three-month notification of his departure to permit and encourage —

  1. Grief at his leaving.
  2. Reassignment of his responsibilities.
  3. Time for a reconciliation of any “old business” left in the relationship.

Exceptions for giving notice would be a fatal heart attack or dying in a head-on collision. It’s not loving to those left behind to exit without notification. Even in a secular job an honorable employee gives a two-week notice.

In one congregation where I served for more than a decade, we had a weekend workshop to discuss my departure. We talked about why I was leaving, when to make the announcement, and ways we could make a smooth transition.

God’s people deserve better than a frustrated leader relieving his stress by shocking the sheep.

The probability of that happening is lessened by mature Christian leaders discussing what would be best for the church before pressure mounts that might prompt this action.[tweetthis]I recommend that leaders have a “no suicide contract.”[/tweetthis]

What has your leadership group done to prevent “leadership suicide”?
Please comment below.