the shape of leadership

Leave Bad Enough Alone

Don’t use up all your energy on negative people

George O Wood on July 21, 2017

From a pastoral perspective, it’s important to realize this: Many of the emotionally needy and consistently unhappy people you give time to are the very ones who will leave the church at some point anyway.

For the health of your church, it is vital that you pour the majority of your time into the larger portion of your flock, putting Ephesians 4:11-12 into practice — equipping people for ministry. Your calling and responsibility is to focus on nurturing and building up those people who are productive for the Kingdom.

This has implications for how you spend your ministry time. For instance, I limited the hours I spent in counseling — not because I didn’t care about people on a personal level, but because I don’t have training or a gift in counseling and because my biblical sense told me that spending an excessive amount of my time in pastoral counseling would take me away from fulfilling my Ephesians 4:11-12 responsibilities.

Nurture and build up those people who are productive for the Kingdom.

On the other hand, I wanted the people who had problems to be able to deal with them in the context of the church, so I hired staff who could offer counsel and help them work through their problems.

There’s an important difference between being at peace with all people in God’s sight and pleasing them according to their carnal natures. It’s usually the carnal nature that keeps unhappy people unhappy.

So stay on the positive, creative edge. Keep doing what God has called you to do. While He hasn’t called you to be insensitive or rude, God also hasn’t called you to pander to malcontents.

Adapted from the book Road Trip Leadership: Mileposts Along My Way in Ministry (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2011).
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