How do you know when to take a stand and when to let things go? Here are five common mistakes, and some questions to think about.
- Avoiding telling people what you think because they might not like it. Of course, you need to assess timing and appropriateness. But I find (and I did it myself as a pastor) that many clergy shy away from candor out of a fear of conflict. Can you find one thing to be more candid about?
- Allowing poor performance from staff when there is no indication they will step up, because they need the job or because you don’t want to be candid with them. Ask this question: are they supervisable?
- Tolerating bad behavior, sometimes for years. Edwin Friedman used to suggest saying, “You can’t act like that here.” Depending on the situation and the person’s role in the church, you may need allies to set a limit. What’s the worst that could happen if you take a stand with this person?
- Taking an anxious stand – the flip side of not taking a stand at all. When we’re afraid to say what we think, when we finally do, it can come out with an edge. When you need to say something clearly, how can you get a little lighter about it?
- Finally, when you do take a clear stand: taking criticism too seriously, and too personally. Leaders get criticized, especially when they step up and lead. It’s part of the job description, even at church. What can you do to cultivate a thicker skin?