National Association of Christian Ministers Leadership Series
By Michael Mooney, Ministry Practitioner
Whether you are a pastor, minister, or in any other form of leadership there always seems to be disconnects between leadership wants and the desires of those they serve. In retail settings the age-old philosophy of service is expressed in the saying, “the customer is always right”. This of course is not entirely true –not even with parishioners (pun intended). Obviously the customer is not always right, for they would quickly be “wrong” if they decided that everything should be 90% off the asking price. Maintaining a proper balance here, and making sure employees (and even volunteers) understand it can be quite challenging. “When there is a conflict between what the customer wants and what the boss wants, the boss wins” (Blanchard & Hodges , 2006, p. 101). In retail settings this too often goes the wrong way. Employees tell customers ” no” to unreasonable requests, then managers tell them “yes” after complaints. This might send a servant leadership message to customers, but not to the employees who are actually supposed to follow the managers directions.
In like manner, if laity does not understand their church’s overall policies, they will make decisions when asked by parishioners. If the parishioners are unpleased, leadership will usually be the first notified. At that point, it will send a poor message of leadership to overrule the previous decision of the laity in an attempt to satisfy the unhappy party. While there are times that overruling situations like these may be necessary, when at all possible it is better to support the previous decision. The best way to do this is to make sure that the laity understands the way leadership makes decisions and the policies that surround them.
And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (Hab 2:2 ESV)
Blanchard, Ken, & Hodges, Phil. (2006). Lead like Jesus: Lessons from the greatest leadership
role model of all time. United States: W. Publishing Group.