I work with church leadership teams literally every day of my life. It is absolutely one of the most joyous things I have the privilege of doing. When you get a group of passionate Christ-followers unified around a compelling mission and vision who also possess the desire, gifts, talents, abilities and resources to move it forward, few things are as exhilarating.
As thrilling as this type of leadership culture is, the opposite is equally as frustrating. When leadership teams needlessly stall the advancement of mission and vision over C-issues, it becomes truly maddening.
Yes, maddening. My heart breaks for pastors in these types of churches because they simply have no chance.
John Maxwell was right when he taught that a leader’s success is determined by those closest to them.
The following is a list of 10 People You Do Not Want on Your Church Leadership Team. Pastors, these individuals will ensure you and your church have little chance of success.
1. The ’80s Man.
This person continually celebrates the achievements of the past (sometimes long, long ago) and views those methods as the only ways to advance mission and vision.
The ’80s Man has not had a new thought since the ’80s. Rick Warren says, “You have to learn to honor the past without perpetuating the past. We all are products of our past but not prisoners of it.”
2. The Devil’s Advocate.
First, the devil does not need any help.
Second, I do not want to be in a room with people who tell me why something will not work. I want to surround myself with people who bring solutions and help make things work.
3. The Cannibal.
This is the person who feels it is their job to keep everyone else accountable. They simply eat people alive. They do not foster accountability. They foster cannability.
4. The “No” One.
This is the person who leads with “No” rather than “Yes.” They have to be convinced to agree to even the most minor leadership decisions.
It just becomes exhausting getting them on a train which has already left the station.
5. The Feeler.
The Feeler has no idea why they are against the ministry initiatives. They just are, even though no one else has any concerns.
There is a caveat here—any experienced leader has had times when something doesn’t feel right in their gut. You should trust this feeling. When this happens, humbly say, “I know this doesn’t make sense, but something just doesn’t feel right here. What do you think?”
This approach is healthy. The problem comes when a person says this about each and every issue.
6. The Chauvinist.
This person dismisses the value and perspective women can bring to leadership.
7. The Enemy of the State.
This person is the worst. They are against the pastor.
There is nothing worse than a person who is not for the pastor and does not do everything within their power to help the pastor succeed.
Also, give your pastor a raise!!! How much—MORE!!!
8. The Union Rep.
Rather than acting like a leader, they choose to represent the dissatisfied and disenfranchised of the church. The Union Rep uses phrases like, “A lot of people are telling me,” or, “There are many people in our church who … .” Ignore the Union Rep and their fabricated statistics.
9. The Hunter.
The Hunter likes to put heads on their wall and notches on their belt. This person tells stories of previous leaders they have “held accountable” or put in their place.
Be wary of this person. You are likely next on their list. They will try to convince you they know more than you, are better connected than you and have a deeper understanding of scripture than you.
They are laying a trap. The Hunter is on the prowl for their next trophy kill. Do not let it be you.
10. The Genius.
The Genius knows more about each and every subject than anyone else. The challenge with The Genius is you cannot teach someone something they think they already know.
If you have any of these 10 people on your leadership team, you have several options:
1. Develop them.
Let’s best honest. I have most likely been every one of these 10 people at some point in my leadership, and probably you have as well. We all started somewhere and can still get better as leaders.
Therefore, this is the best option. No one is perfect, and if they are teachable and have the passion to become a better leader, you can develop them.
2. Confront them.
Remind them of what your church in general, and this team in particular, is trying to accomplish. Show them where they can be part of the solution.
Most teams have a length of service. Hopefully, they will just rotate off soon.
4. Pray for God to remove them.
This is the passive and often healthiest approach.
5. Remove them.
Rather than just praying God removes them, please know sometimes you are the answer to that prayer. This is where courage is needed to have the hard conversation.
Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.