management or leadership in the church

In my Master’s of Ministries class, we were asked to read two articles. One was written by Mintzberg and the other by Kotter. Both articles did an amazing job of comparing leaders to managers. Kotter stated, “Management is about coping with complexity… Without good management, complex enterprises tend to become chaotic in ways that threaten their very existence. Good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products.” He then describes a leader “by contrast” as one who copes with change.  He believes that the two skill sets are different thus handled by different people with different skill sets.

 Without going any further to discuss Mintzberg’s philosophy, I agree with Kotter. The two roles and personality characteristics are different and in theory, a company should have different people handling these different tasks. In reality however, in today’s day and age of budget costs with minimal staff required to perform at maximum capacity, there are people performing roles and functions that they are not gifted in or called to do. This atmosphere describes my office, including me. I am clearly the motivating, charismatic leader who has a gift to teach and evangelize. Instead, I do whatever is necessary to lay the foundation to allow others to know the Lord better. I answer the phone, create the handouts, vacuum the rugs and clean the bathrooms if necessary.  I believe that God honors servants, and the best leaders are those who work hard to serve others. I do continually pray that I am thankful in the day of small things as well as in performing the tasks of small things (by human standards).

 I read Henry Mintzberg’s article first so I spent more time meditating over his words. Personally, I was bothered reading his article, maybe because I saw my own inadequacies in needing to plan, perform and organize but not wanting at all to control. I expect people to do what they say they are going to do. I really believe that  I am not called to be interrupted throughout the day to review the details that we discussed in an excessively long staff meeting. If we have the right people with the same vision working together for the same common purpose, why does it seem like we are on the same page at the staff meeting until we evaluate the fruit of its implementation? Praise God that He has His way despite the worship, the lack of dessert and coffee and sometimes speakers who are addressing themselves instead of those they are called to help. It is a miracle that anyone comes to Christ today.

 My background is ICU Nursing. I was promoted to charge nurse of a very acute, intensive care unit that specialized in neurological disorders 4 months after starting my job. I had very strong leadership skills but I valued and encouraged and granted raises to those staff members who were great managers. I am not good with the details of things but I get the big picture very quickly. We all had it hard but we worked together for the good and well being of the patient. Changing to full time ministry was like a nightmare when it came to leadership, management and professionalism. I knew that I had a Jonah complex but would be absolutely fine being swallowed by a whale to get out of church politics. Being in a parachurch ministry, my heart is for the pastor’s wife. She is usually the most beaten up, frustrated, passive aggressive person in the room (if she even shows up). And I have to say that there are certain denominations that are consistently worse than others (I believe it is related to their theology).  If the pastor’s wife is sick, how can she help lead the sheep to wellness? We have to take care of our leaders and their families, despite our personal opinions or their personalities. Aaron and Miriam are good examples of what God thinks of us criticizing a leader’s wife.

 Why can’t we in the church value, encourage, accept, respect those men and women who are great leaders? Instead, we judge, complain, harass and criticize.  At the same time, why don’t those great leaders know how to humble themselves to love, serve, train, develop and appreciate those staff members who are great managers? Instead, why do the managers feel like they are treated as the little toe to the mouth of the church? Are we not one body, serving one God, baptized into one faith?

 These articles, comics and charts are true, noble, right…but application on a daily basis is largely missing! Again, I think we are better at beating the sheep than leading them, which leads little room for the gift of management and emphasizes very poor leadership. I get around the nation and women tell me a lot of things. We as a church are found lacking in leadership and management. Judgment begins in the house of the Lord. I pray we can serve within our God-given skill set and I pray that our leaders can humble themselves to learn to love others.


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