Good Church Leaders and Ministers

A few years ago I shared an adaptation of what education author Todd Whitaker writes in “What Great Teachers Do



Differently” {2nd Edition (Larchmont, NY:Eye on Eye Education) 2012}, applying it to parents as their child’s first and primary teacher.  Specifically chapter 11 where Whitaker discusses how good teachers repair relationships with students.  I thought about that blog this morning and considered how it applies to ministers and other church leaders (teacher, deacons, elders, etc.) Whitaker describes three types of teachers that I think describes church leaders as well.

1. Need to Repair – But Never Do: Some church leaders need to repair relationships with other Christians (church members) but never do. At some point a leader will make a mistake, they will say or do something that will hurt feelings. Some church leaders take an approach that communicates being unapproachable and unwilling to admit wrong.

2. I am Sorry That Happened: Leaders, learn to say you are sorry.  Learn to say, “I am sorry that happened.”  Even if you were unaware of your part in the pain.  The following story is true, it has to do with my role as a minister from early in my church work.  I think this event illustrates this point.  Years ago a man approached me on a Sunday morning after our assembly. “Scott, why don’t you like me any more?”  I was floored.  I liked this man and his family.  They were good workers in the church.  I replied, “I do like you, and love you as my brother in Christ.  Why do you think I don’t like you?”  He explained that I appeared to be avoiding him.  For the last month, he perceived that I had not made an effort to speak to him.  (In my defense there were an average of over 300 each Sunday at that time, I could not talk to everyone.)  What did I do?  What did I say?  I said, “I am sorry I made you feel that way, please know I do like and love you and will do anything I can for you.  I may not be able to talk to you every assembly, but I will try to speak to you as often as possible.”  We “man-hugged” and he promised to come to me and not wait for me to come to him. When you say you are sorry an event happened, don’t stop with the simple acknowledgement – make effort to change.

3. Never Need to Repair – Always Do: Simply put, if we want to be great church leaders, we must always work to repair and maintain our relationship with church members.  Church members and other leaders may think everything is good, and if you work hard to maintain and repair it will be, but learn to keep it that way.  Consider Jesus’ relationship advice in Mat 5:23-26 and Mat 18:15-17.  We have the responsibility to work things out with others – especially our fellow servants of Christ.

I think you can see that the best leaders are the last group. But when we find ourselves falling short we must apologize and do our best to make things right. Good leaders work hard to avoid personally hurting other Christians physically or emotionally.  Great leaders also work hard to repair any inadvertent damage.

– Scott

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