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04 Oct '13

Ministry anchors that hold you back

Posted by T.J. Addington in ministry teams, organizational alignment, team

Do you ever feel like there is an anchor that keeps your board or staff team from moving forward like it should? Like many of you are trying to row as hard as you can but it's like you have an anchor dragging behind you that makes the going slow and frustrating? You wish that you could cut through the water at a nice clip but each pull on the oars is hard!

Usually when this happens it is because of an individual on the board or team who don't belong there and until you move them on, the rowing will remain tough. And the team or board will grow increasingly frustrated about the slow pace given that they are throwing their energy into the process. Here are several anchors that keep boards and teams from moving forward.

Lack of clarity
Clarity is like the wind in the sail, you know clearly where you are going and therefore all hands on deck are helping move the organization in the right direction. Lack of clarity, on the other hand, is like a sail with no wind and an anchor off the back. Let's face it, if you don't know where you are going you will actually get there: wherever that is.

Lack of empowerment by leaders
Leaders who don't empower become ministry anchors! Everything ultimately comes back to them (because they  don't delegate authority and responsibility) holding things up, causing disempowerment to staff and ultimately making it all about the leader who does not trust his/her staff. Controlling leaders always hold the ministry back.

Lack of alignment
It only takes one individual who is not on board with the direction of the team to throw off the rhythm and momentum. After all you are all trying to go to a certain place but this individual does not agree and is trying to pull in another direction. Their resistance may be active or passive but it is real and it throws the rest of the team off kilter.

Inability to think at the right level
Here you have a nice board member or staff member who may well have the best interests of the ministry at heart but they cannot play at the level of the rest of of the group. In order to help them understand you spend inordinate amounts of time trying to explain. The process discourages the rest of the group and at every critical juncture you have an anchor keeping you from moving at the pace you could be moving.

Black and white thinkers
These are the individuals who don't understand nuance, or grey and for whom all issues are black and white and must be parsed that way. They become frustrating because they don't have the ability to be flexible in their thinking and flexibility is a key to a good team or board. Their stand on "principle" is so rigid that anything that violates their interpretation is a problem to them.

People who need to have their own way
I will call these people for what they are: narcissists. They are not team players. They have an agenda and they simply want their way. They may hide behind spiritual talk but the bottom line is that such talk is simply a smokescreen for their own selfishness and arrogance. These folks are deeply frustrating because they have a hidden agenda that keeps them moving in their direction at all times.

People who are not gifted for leadership
These may be deeply Godly folks who get on a board or team but who simply are not wired to lead. Making decisions that may offend someone in the congregation (and many decisions will) causes knots in their stomachs and getting them to a decision point is arduous.

I have on occasion tried to run the motor of a fishing boat without first pulling up the anchor. You realize very quickly you have a problem with forward momentum. And you pull it up. My advice to boards and teams, deal with the anchor when you have one. Not to do so is to settle for a significant momentum loss and great frustration for the rest of the team.