February 13, 2014

The Dangers of Being a Control Freak

Church planters and pastors of all ilks are united by the fact that they (normally) have strong personalities. This is doubly so for those of us who work in housing schemes and/or other similar situations. We have to lead, often make snap decisions, and carry/encourage/develop/mentor a group of people seeking to live for Christ in hard places.

I have to work very hard with my Ministry Team to ensure that I don’t swamp them with the sheer force of my will. People need time to grow and develop their spiritual gifting(s) and, therefore, it is necessary to give people the space to cultivate their own ideas, make mistakes, and participate in the forward momentum of our work here.

It is very easy with new and inexperienced people to be the ‘expert’ (because of my age, cultural background, and life experience) and to want to continually do the job for them if they don’t perform in a way that I would. Here are some things to watch out for:

1. If people aren’t coming to you with new, fresh ministry ideas, is it because you don’t let them?

2. Does everybody around you always agree with every decision, or is it debated and discussed first?

3. Are you pretty much always right? When was the last time anybody told you that you were wrong about something?

4. Do you like to manipulate people to perform according to your standards? Do you ‘butter people up’ or pay them compliments you don’t mean in order to get what you want?

5. Do you feel that you have to be involved in every meeting and every decision in the church?

6. When somebody else is in charge of a ministry project, do you itch to ‘get involved’ (poke your nose in)? Are you always looking for ways they could do it ‘better’?

7. Do you have the final say in every meeting and decision made?

8. Do you pay particular attention to the ‘power brokers’ in the church (or organisation) in order to maintain and/or develop your power base?

9. When people disagree with you, does it become personal and does bitterness build up in your heart?

10. When somebody comes to you with a new idea, is your immediate response, ‘Yes, but’?

11.Do we cut off, sideline, and ignore those we disagree with?

I am sure there are many more. We’re all sinners and we all have to guard our hearts in leadership. I have repented of more than one of these things in my own life. The great thing about building teams is that, if you pick them right, they can keep you from most of these dangers. It is good to have ideas and dissenting voices around in order to keep you on your toes and to keep you questioning your motives and challenging heart issues. Of course, leaders must lead and decisions must be made. We cannot escape that fact. I could just as easily write an article on weak-willed leaders who are swayed by every opinion and live to please others. But, in a scheme, these types don’t last long. It is usually the steely-eyed, determined ones that make it (with God’s grace of course) and that’s why we must watch out, for those strengths can often harm and undermine us if we are not on our guard.

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