5 DUMB LEADERSHIP ASSUMPTIONS YOU NEVER LEARNED IN SEMINARY

Charles Stone has a perceptive blog that should be required reading especially for new pastors coming out of seminary into churches. Here’s a post I found sadly to be all too true in my 40 years of ministry.  Charles writes …
After two seminary degrees and 30 years in ministry, I’ve gleaned a few insights I wish I’d learned long ago. Although my seminary profs never directly taught me to question the assumptions I’ve listed below, even if they had I wonder if in my youthful enthusiasm I would have listened. Unfortunately it often takes the hard knocks in ministry to teach us what we must know.

As you read each assumption below, ask yourself if you agree. I’ll comment on each of them after the list.

What worked before should work again.
Church people will always respect a pastor’s position.
When leaders stay silent, they are agreeing with you.
Reason always prevails.
Everybody perceives the same reality.

It’s taken a few years, but each of these has proved grossly false.

What worked before should work again. It just doesn’t. Culture changes. Technology changes. Expectations from church people changes. If we as leaders and churches don’t change how we do ministry, this proverbial definition of insanity proves true: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Church people will always respect a pastor’s position. I do recall one seminary prof quoting Psalm 105.15 (KJV)… Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. He used it to elevate the pastor’s role to an esteemed position. It’s nice when people do that, but many in your church simply won’t respect your role. Sometimes the contrary proves true. Your role actually may elicit disrespect from some.

When leaders stay silent, they are agreeing with you. I’ve tripped on this one a lot. Too often when I’m jazzed about an idea and share it with key leaders or staff, I’ve gotten blank stares or simple nods when I first shared it. I’ve interpreted those nods and stares as resounding support from them. After all, if they objected, they should have said so, right then. In retrospect, however, they were just being polite. Although I had spent sufficient time to process my idea, they hadn’t. By not asking questions or providing them more soak time before implementing the idea, I’ve often found later they never really liked the idea. The result? At best reluctant acquiescence and at worst, active resistance. But, when I’ve provided sufficient soak time, the idea often evolved into an even better one that the leaders embraced.

Reason always prevails. Unfortunately, emotion often trumps reason, even among mature leaders. I’m learning more about how neuroscience affects church leadership, especially when hormones hijack clear thinking. Check out my blog on how your hormones may be hijacking your leadership here.

Everybody perceives the same reality. In court, lawyers often use conflicting testimony to their advantage. The same holds true in churches. People simply perceive reality differently. Some may see the church as going great. Others may see the opposite. It can become frustrating at times for every leader. When those conflicts arise, seek wise counsel from someone outside of the conflict who can provide objectivity.

What assumptions have you found to be false in your ministry?

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