Jun 21, 2012

Thoughts on Leadership and Conflict

As part of my daily readings, I read a page of "The Art of Pastoring" by William Martin.

Let me confess right up front that most of what Martin writes about goes totally contrary to how I am wired and how I view leadership. But I still value what he has to say because almost everything he writes is so not like me. His writing and wisdom about leadership is unlike anything I typically read.

This morning here's what Martin had to say about conflict.

By its very nature
the parish will contain conflict.
Not everyone will appreciate or value
the work of the wise pastor.
Some will choose to see him as the enemy;
someone to be challenged, criticized, and defeated.
Do not subscribe to the illusion inherent 
in such conflict.
If you try to impose your will by force
of your winning personality,
or clever arguments,
or worse, the righteousness of your cause, 
you will reap the whirlwind.
Give the gift that is yours to give,
then withdraw from the conflict.
Your parish will always be beyond
your ability to control.
The opinion of others will forever lie
outside of your capacity to change.
Because you love your own soul,
are content with your own soul,
and accept your own soul,
you have no need to defend or defeat.
The parish returns to the Word and goes on.

What do you think?

Would love to hear your thoughts.


dhollifield said...

I think Martin is right - after suggesting that the Session appoint a group to study an issue, one elder was antagonistic towards me for trying to "make us do something we don't want to do," and another said, "We don't need to study it, just tell us what to do!" It is difficult to be a non-directive leader (whatever that is) while still equipping the saints. On the other hand, in many congregations there is a dearth of leadership (not of volunteers, but of leaders who will wrestle on behalf of the church), and to be "non-directive" leaves the church rudderless. I think what I failed to learn in seminary was patience.

James Kim said...

Appreciate your thoughts Deb. It certainly is an interesting time where God has us leading. But God we have to continue trusting that God knew what he was doing when he placed us in our places of leadership.

Mr."B" said...

Some of us see what we could be, others see what we have been and want to be there again. A natural environment for conflict in any organization. Some years ago suggested a church name change to session since we were not little or on the prairie any longer, but a Medium size church in a City. Forgot to wear the flack jacket that day and still carry the marks. But as he put it , you have no need to defend or defeat. The parish returns to the Word and goes on. and on we go to this day. What’s in a name anyway? Conflict can be constructive of destructive. God give us the choice and the tools to choose which by the way we deal with it.

teacher_deb said...

We can never force change on anyone. We can provoke deep thinking about something and try to "listen " to what God is nudging us towards but we cannot every in any aspect of leadership "make" anyone change. I have had this lesson repeated in my life many times, because for some reason I always think I can "fix" some one or their attitude etc. You must do what is right, true, just,and do not be complaicent. You must move on with what you know to be true and and honors God, and by your actions then people will then either fall away or attempt to change. Hope I am making sense here!