The look of consternation on my husband’s face caught my eye as I glided past his office, located next to mine. I doubled back and sat down in one of his office chairs. His eye roll told me volumes about the conversation. The angry soul on the other end spoke so loudly it, I could hear most of what they were saying.
“It just speaks poorly of our church for our lawns to look so bad! You should be doin’ somethin’ about that today, Pastor Ken!” Due to a rainy spell, our church’s lawn service allowed our grass to grow a bit longer than usual. One irate parishioner decided the senior pastor should solve that problem immediately. I think they secretly hoped Ken would fetch our lawn mower and jump right on that. He didn’t.
Ken’s transition from associate to senior pastor came with opportunities for him to use his primary gifts of teaching and administration to a greater degree. The move also came with the responsibility of all bucks stopping at his desk. When our youth group did jello wrestling in our church fellowship hall (true story), many bucks landed on Pastor Ken’s desk. When bulletins sported typos, some people couldn’t wait for a Monday morning phone call and grabbed him in between services. Somebody thought the price of the lady’s guild’s pig in a blankets was way too high and decided that was a senior pastor problem to solve.
Any upward movement comes with more responsibility. When a job title starts with senior, vice president, lead, manager, supervisor, and such, it comes with a real or imaginary desk where bucks like to stop. Jesus experienced that sensation many times. When a hungry crowd stared up at the twelve, they all pointed in Jesus’ direction. Most significantly, the abrupt and brutal end of Jesus’ ministry didn’t wind up with all his disciples on crosses, just Him.
When I start to feel the weight of problems to solve or mistakes to correct and sometimes apologize for, I remind myself that this is what leaders do. If I don’t want this stuff, then I need to be a follower who allows others to forge the paths.
God didn’t gift me with administration and leadership, though, to keep it on a shelf, unused. If I’m not using those gifts in some arena, I won’t be fulfilling my destiny and will probably feel frustrated. Don’t let the challenges of leadership stop you! Don’t avoid disciplining your children because you want to be their friend. Don’t allow students to run your classroom with poor behavior. Set and enforce boundaries. Don’t shy away from a promotion you are deserving of and skilled for because you don’t want to deal with the criticism and jealousies. If God has given you any kind of leadership gifts, you won’t be content unless you are using them.
Here’s a few strategies for handling all the stuff that lands in your inbox.
Refuse to take up a spirit of offense. Getting chewed for the failings of someone under you is never pleasant. Remember, you are the problem solver, not the creator, so don’t let yourself get all huffy.
Keep your voice and demeanor steady and kind. This is tough to do with a screaming parent or customer up in your business but I have found it to be an effective calming technique for myself and others.
Take a few beats before dealing with the one who originated the problem. You need time to respond, not react. Sometimes I’ve watched folks handle a complaint beautifully then go off the rails when they confront the individual that prompted it.
Make the tough choices. If you’ve got someone under you that generates a lot of action in the buck department, it’s up to you to administer consequences that help them and your organization. If you are taking heat for someone, they need to feel some of it or there is no motivation to change their behavior.
There is such a joy in leading people to conquer mountains and achieve group goals. Expect complaints and criticisms to land at your feet because you are the guide. Use them as skill builders instead of permanent road blocks.