August 14, 2017

6 Suggestions on Leading Your Ministry Through Social and Political Tensions

Leading in a time of social and political tension is not easy. And for some, it can be a scary time. 

If you are a ministry leader, multiply that by two. Not only do you have to lead your family, but those in your congregation, group or ministry as well. All of whom want answers and solutions, but more importantly, they are looking for your leadership.

Wow, that’s a lot of pressure! 

Times like these require wisdom and emotional intelligence before you can even begin to know how to approach the issue.

Deciding what actions to take scares a lot of ministry leaders. The thought of having to take action in the midst of social and political tensions sends a lot of leaders into hiding. 

Many become silent. Not because they don’t care, but because they simply don’t know what to do or say.

If you're a ministry leader of a 'church' congregation, you're leading at a time that requires what Dr. Martin Luther King calls, "Mental responses that the new situation demands".

You not only have an awesome responsibility, but an opportunity to influence those you serve in a positive and productive way.

Here are six suggestions for when you’re uncertain about how to lead your ministry or group in the midst of social and political tensions.
  1. Do and say something. I agree wholeheartedly, that religious leaders of congregations and otherwise, should always speak up and speak out on and about issues, that affect their communities, and those they lead.

    You don’t have to always have clarity or see your way through immediately. I have found that as I move closer to the issue, clarity comes. However, sticking your head in the sand is the wrong answer and makes you look like the part sticking out.

    God expects us to speak out and act against the presence of evil.

  2. Don't wait too long to respond. While not addressing or ignoring the issue makes you irrelevant, wait longer than five days and you'll risk becoming irrelevant.

    In today's culture, you're competing with many outside forces that influence those you lead. The longer you take, the less influence you'll have. I write about this 
    here.

  3. Focus on what really matters. Pay attention to the ‘right now’ needs of those you’re leading. Those things that are vital, and not trivial. Don't get caught up in the emotion and hysteria, which could lead to an absents of spiritual discernment.

    Don't be influenced by what the popular leaders suggest. It may not be practical, or doesn't express what’s happening where you're leading, or may not be the answer for those you're leading.

  4. Forget about the extreme consequences. The one thing that holds us back as leaders when it comes to making important decisions, is that we imagine the worst or the extreme consequences, and become afraid of criticism. Even the smallest amount.

    “Will they hate me?” “Will they love me? Will I get talked about if things don't turn out right?

    "The trouble with a lot of ministry leaders is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." 
    Norman Vincent Peale

    The truth is, you can’t and won’t please everybody. Success as we define it, doesn't always look the way we think it should.

  5. Don't become consumed. Yes, speak up and speak out, but don't let these issues consume you to the point where you're no longer leading, but have now become a stumbling block and barrier to a positive solution.

    If you allow yourself to become consumed by the issues and tensions at hand, you risk leading from your emotions rather than wisdom.

  6. Remember who you are. Yes, it's OK to be angry about what you're witnessing. But when your anger turns to rage, hate and bitterness, to the point where you're now articulating with words and phrases unbecoming, now you're flirting with sin.

    At this point, you have forgotten who you are. It's time to take a break from it all. It's OK to turn off the TV or radio. Some quiet meditation never hurts.

    Regardless of what the issues may be, and the tension that is birthed from them, don't forget we are not wrestling with each other. Ephesians 6:12
One of my mentors said it best, "Like it or not, leaders replicate themselves. Their personal character, words, and actions matter. When a leader sneezes, his followers catch a cold."
These are just six suggestions. If you have any others, post them in the comment section below.

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