True Confessions of an Overseer

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Heb. 5:11).

True confessions here… Ready? Let me write to senior leaders. Let me begin from where I sit in this current season.

Sometimes I feel as if those who should know better do not. When they ought to be teachers, they revert back to requiring diaper changes. It’s as if time, teaching, instruction, hours of discipleship, thousands of dollars of investment, and then there comes a season where all this leaks out. Trusted leaders tend to behavioral problems of complaining, ungratefulness, self-centeredness, gossip, and entitlement. The only difference now is that we have become adept at wrapping all these fleshly character flaws in overtly religious wrappings so its hard to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, the holy from unholy. Words sound right, but fruit is bad.

Can Leaders Be Honest … Ever?
When asked to help, a Christian leader may say, “Sorry, that’s not my gift or passion.” He should be honest and just say, “I don’t want to do that because I don’t want to be like Christ right now. I want to LOOK like I do, but not really.”

When reproving a staff person, I will hear them say, “You’re not an encourager.” Instead, they should just say, “I want to be lazy and I don’t want you to say anything. Just pay me anyway.”

When someone is incompetent due to a lack of discipline and they go for a year without much fruit, he or she will say, “I did my best.” Instead they should just be honest and say, “I did it my way, and never checked with you if I was even going in the right direction. I ought to be fired.”

When a person does not complete what was assigned to them even after several requests and checks, they will say, “I was waiting on so-and-so, and if he would have come through, it would be done. And if I had more resources from you, it would really help. It’s hard to do what you asked without any help.” Instead they should just say, “I am insubordinate and rebellious. I need to be disciplined or let go.”

We really don’t want to take the time to pray. We just want the benefits of one who does. We don’t want to develop the diligence to be competent and excellent. We just want the salary of one who is. We think that time spent at something is equals to fruitfulness as if time sleeping with the Bible under your pillow will make you holier.

I told you! True confessions.

Making Distinctions
I bet the Apostle Paul struggled with these matters. I KNOW that Moses did and David did. But when it gets close to home, it’s still tough.

1 Cor. 11:19 has always been an eye opener for me as an overseer. Here it is: “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” In other words, these tough seasons are necessary. At every stage, these furnace times will surface those who are trustworthy and those who are not. However, I am saddened however because the ones I hoped would be proved true, often are not, and the ones I didn’t think would, are! I have seen this over and again.

Veterans get infected with a sense of entitlement and begin to slouch. They lose the privilege of serving and their respect they once had for their mentors. They think that they have a right to do what they want to do regardless of what needs to get done. They take the prerogative to choose their activities regardless of what was asked of them.

Vigilant leaders will indeed get exercised over the mishandlings and attitudes of entitlement. It’s is difficult for a doctor to work hard at containing a contagious disease in his patients when his staff, nurses, and aides are carriers of the very virus he is working hard to eliminate.

This is where the keen edge of leadership comes in. Here are a few directional markers:

  1. Evaluate things correctly and get other leader’s perspectives that are not susceptible to be snowed by slouching staff. Then you move in like troops going after terrorists. The attitudes of entitlement will infect the whole even though it may exist only in 5% of our leaders. Senior leaders cannot wait until everything is infected before they act, but neither can they act with insufficient information.
  2. Trust your top leaders. Ask them how they will solve the issue. Give them a chance to increase their leadership skills, then reevaluate after 30 days.
  3. Meet weekly with your top leaders to get progress reports. Do not let the issue go into to the bottom of their piles.
  4. Teach on these things. Without names or inappropriate disclosure, teach in order to correct the atmosphere and right the culture of what is best.

In the end, the ones that brought you to this stage of your ministry may not be the ones that will take you to the next. Be vigilant and gracious, but be a warrior when you need to be.

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