by Grady King:
The following is in light of 15-20 hours of conversations, emails, texts, and video conferences with church leaders this past week—male and female. Without exception, lack of spiritual leadership, vision, courage, and poor processes are common topics.
I am blessed to serve in HOPE Network listening, praying, encouraging, mentoring, guiding, sharing resources, and being present in a time of need. All leaders need a safe space outside of their church to share honestly without fear. Ministry can be a very lonely place. Tonight, I have three groups of leaders close to my heart.
- First, ministers who possess wisdom, longevity, and have proven themselves in the trenches of life. They are often told, “We need a younger minister who will help us reach younger people.” As if the younger minister is the “silver bullet” when the church has been in decline under the same leadership for years.
- Second, young ministers who need grace, encouragement, and time to grow. Rather than being surprised by the “We’re going a different direction” meeting with no explanation or previous opportunity to learn and make adjustments. There is also the impact on their family, minimal transition time, and financial support. It is spiritually irresponsible. A good rule of thumb is, “If this were my son or daughter, how would I treat them?” It doesn’t have to be so. We can do better for the sake of others and the kingdom. Lord, help!
- Third, elders who yearn to shepherd and be spiritual leaders but find themselves stuck in a system; a system designed for control, punctuated by fear and indecisiveness. A system where elders function as representatives of a constituency to keep members happy, avoid conflict and have no tolerance for pain. In short, no vision, no courage, and weariness. As a friend of mine says, “We get what we put up with.” Nothing changes until behaviors change.
Yes, there are times that leaders must transition; when change is necessary. There is, however, every reason to be thoughtful, honest, helpful, and compassionate. Almost every week, I have a conversation with a minister or an elder who says, “I’m out. No more.” It doesn’t have to be so. We can do better for the sake of others and the kingdom. Lord, help!
Pray for your leaders. Engage them with helpful conversations. And remember, God calls them to lead you to holiness, not happiness.