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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

10 Jul '12

Can I disagree with you and still keep my relationship with you?

One of the signs of emotional maturity is the ability to disagree with someone and still remain connected relationally. All too often, Christian leaders are unable to do this because they are threatened by those who do not agree with them. I have seen numerous cases, for instance, where a leader or member of a church is marginalized by the senior pastor when that individual disagrees with them.


Leaders who are unable to maintain relationship with those who disagree with them usually divide people into two camps: those that are for me and those that are against me. To live in the first camp usually means to agree with their leader. One gets moved to the second camp when one disagrees with their leader. It is a black and white, for and against world view that damages relationships, hurts the leadership potential of the leader who chooses to marginalize others and divides organizations and congregations. 


Often, church boards are divided by this thinking as the pastor divides in his mind and therefore his relationships those that are for him and those that are against him. It is a toxic behavior.


Here is an interesting question: What lies behind this kind of marginalization of someone who disagrees? I would suggest two answers: insecurity and pride.


Insecurity compels many leaders to need to be right. Anything that challenges their rightness becomes a threat and thus their marginalization of those who disagree with them. The need to be right and its resulting behaviors often masks great insecurity.


Pride and at its worst, narcissism, can also be at the root of this behavior. By definition, a narcissist must be right and anyone who challenges their world view is disregarded, marginalized (ignored) or becomes the enemy. To put it in Facebook terms they are summarily defriended.


This is obviously a tricky issue to confront as the moment one does, one is likely to be marginalized. Boards, because of their authority, can, if they are willing, confront the behavior of a leader. If he or she responds, it will be the kindest thing they ever did. If the issue is narcissism, it is unlikely that there will be any change and the board then has a deeper problem to deal with.


All of us, however, should ask ourselves the question as to whether we exhibit this kind of behavior. It divides, assigns ill motives and hurts teams and organizations. Lets make sure that we are not guilty.