Leadership Courage Series # 38

We’re reviewing nine traits essential to lead effectively in a Church caught in a culture of cowardice.   Three: Promote healthy differentiation within the church or system you lead.

Healthy differentiation means to take full responsibility for your own being and destiny.  Pastor, this means that you will discard the ministerial malpractice of taking responsibility for others.

You and your members can’t both be responsible for their well-being and destiny. 

If you take responsibility for them, they won’t.  Soon, you begin to over-function.  Your over-functioning undermines the impulse toward initiative of your people.  Edwin Friedman writes: “When one over-functions in another’s space, the existential reality is [that] it can cause another’s being to disintegrate.”

Here’s a shock: Every over-functioner does it for himself.  Over-functioning is selfishness.  Self-indulgent.  Self-serving.

Sure, you’re exhausting yourself in the service of all those around you.  The lie you believe is that you do it for them.  Peel back the onion and you’ll find that you prefer it this way.  You love the control, the self-satisfaction, the esteem, maybe the sense of superiority it provides you.

Trust me.  I know.

When you take responsibility for your congregation’s emotional being and destiny, you assume a role Jesus didn’t. Jesus lived with his disciples as if they were responsible before God for their own being and destiny.  The storm at sea [Lk 8], healing the epileptic [Mk 9], Peter walking on water [Mt 14], feeding the multitude [Jn 6].

Jesus saw challenges, not as threats from which to shelter his people, but as opportunities for growth to maturity.

Second, a well-differentiated person knows who she is and who she’s not.  She doesn’t look to her career, her friends, or her children – important as they are – to determine her value, identity, or well-being.  The opinions, expectations, and preferences of others don’t define her.

She is clear.  Not arrogant.  Confident in who God has made her to be, and clear about the difference she gets to make with her life.

As pastor, you’re a champion of your people’s secure identity.  You get to champion them to stand in well-differentiated maturity.

The best way is to be with them as if they are…