Thursday, May 31, 2012

Unempowered, unhappy and undervalued staff

I have met my share of people in ministry positions recently who have been working for unempowering leaders, hierarchical structures, controlling leaders or who have been sidelined or unappreciated by the leadership structure above them. 

They feel like they are swimming upstream, their voice is not heard, that they cannot use their gifts to the fullest and while they love the ministry mandate of their organizations they feel like they no longer fit. It is a sad commentary on many ministry cultures. In many cases the controlling and unempowering culture causes great pain to those who are caught in its grip.

Whenever I have conversations with folks like this I think of the great waste of ministry potential, the frustration factor for good staff and the net loss to the kingdom. I cannot help think that God may hold leaders accountable for not fully releasing other ministry personnel for the sake of His kingdom.

What is more sad is that the leaders who cause this dysfunction don't even know they are doing it, or don't care. I have had leaders tell me how happy their staff are but when I ask some questions of those staff I find a radically different story. It is clear to me that the leader has assumed much and probed little. 

One of the trends I am watching is high quality staff who are leaving these dysfunctional cultures in their fifties as they realize that life is short and they want to be in a place where they can experience convergence between their gifts, God's call and an empowered ministry culture. 

The beneficiaries of those moves are ministries that value their staff, create empowered cultures, collegial teams, and value the gifts, voice and ideas of their ministry colleagues. For those who have been in the bondage of dysfunctional or unempowered ministries it is a breath of fresh air.

If you are a leader and value your staff, think about the culture you are creating. If you are a staff member in the wilderness of unempowered cultures, know that there are ministries that will release you to use all of your potential. Life is short and the opportunities are huge.

1 comment:

Ron Harper said...

This strikes at the core for not only church leadership but that of the secular world as well. I have been a student of management and leadership since my first days at a fast food restaurant at age 16. Now some 45 years later in spite of all the management books written and all the training and education of present day leadership I still see the same dysfunctional managerial issues in many organizations. All too often leadership is oblivious if not intentional about the marginalization and unempowerment of staff. This begs the question how they even got into positions of leadership to begin with. At what point in time does the board say enough is enough? Unfortunately, many times repairs come late because church attendance is down as is giving and the church is struggling to stay afloat. The time for change is when the dysfunctional leadership behaviors surface not when money issues raise the red flags. Change needs to be effected because it’s the right thing to do. It’s too late when there is an exodus of staff and long time church members.