Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Peaceful Violence

Unpopular Truths of Leadership through Transition

Change is always hard.
Change always feels a bit violent.
I’ve been blessed to work in church contexts for the last 20 years, and in each context, I’ve become the leader in a ministry that was already in existence. What that means is that there were certain structures already in place, and elements of DNA that were established, and not all structures and not all DNA as I found them, were healthy. So this is a bit of the wisdom God has taught me as I’ve led through transition (as most of my church-world brothers and sisters are doing right now). Since most of the time we mortals tend to be as wise as doves and as gentle as serpents, above all I know that listening to Jesus and following His example will always be the best course…

Lesson 1: Gentleness is more powerful than rage.

Proverbs 16:32 tells us that it’s better to have self control than to take a city.

Gentleness is one of the fruits of a life lived filled with God’s Spirit. It has many inherent advantages. But, one of the best aspects of being gentle is that you never have to apologize.

I know several pastors who employ the rant and the rage, and I know that tends to lead to some difficult places personally. I’ve done it. Most of the time, it also forces us to go to a place of humility, where we end up needing to apologize for the un-gentleness we’ve exhibited. I have a dear friend in ministry who was always having to apologize…to women, to the press, to another ministry that he didn’t really hate but ranted against as if he did…what’s interesting is that as he has grown as a gentle leader, his influence has also grown. While I readily admit there are seasons for strength, and for holding a hard line, it’s always good to be reminded: You’ll never have to apologize for being gentle.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 NIV