DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Leading is hard

Written by: on April 12, 2019

Picking up Brene Brown’s  book Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. I was intrigued because of the excitement shown by my fellow members of the Elite 8. The first quote given to the reader from Teddy Roosevelt about willing to fail caught my attention in introducing the reader to what she calls “the physics vulnerability” [1] The willingness to fail has been coming up in my discussions about how to change a church’s culture from inner focussed to outward focus time and time again. In talking with pastors who have begun the transformation in their church to pastors who are struggling to find the right path to change one thing seems certain. We have to be willing to fail for the kingdom and to do that we have to be vulnerable with those around us. 

The beauty of Brown’s work is that it not only fits into the executive world but into whatever you have been called to lead through. Mary Beth Albright writes “Brown’s research translates to many fields because it’s about having successful interpersonal — and intrapersonal — relationships. Knowing oneself, having and enforcing boundaries and recognizing limitations are leadership requirements but also requirements for having fulfilling relationships in general. To paraphrase Brown, we’re all just people.” [2]  The idea that we should be vulnerable also can dovetail into ministry as well. Brown defines vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” [3] So think about that for just a moment, there are times in ministry when I have no answer as to why God would allow something to happen so awful that it causes a crisis of faith for someone. I can start by quoting scripture like “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  from Romans 8:28, which is true and I believe it with all my heart, but sometimes rings hollow to a parent who has just lost a child in a car wreck. I can assure them that God will walk them through this time, as I know he will. Or, I can be vulnerable with them, cry, hold a hand, listen to their heart and know that there will be time for all the other things to be said. As pastors, we are expected to be the super spiritual, always covered in the armor of God so as to turn away the fiery arrows of the enemy but as we all know, we are no different than any other Christian and to allow our selves to be vulnerable is to allow our selves to hurt when others hurt, rejoice when others rejoice. 

One of the hardest parts about changing a church’s culture is the doing away with programs which are no longer effective. As a pastor, the hardest conversations I have had to deal with are the ones shutting down what someone perceives as a vital ministry. I have gone through many iterations of how to do this, from just coming out and saying we are not doing this anymore, to just slowly removing resources until the program dies on its own, and none of them are easy. They say just ripping a band aid off quickly is the best way to do that and this is how many pastors see as the best way to shut down an ineffective program but we are not dealing with a superficial wound, this is someone’s passion. All to often a new pastor will come in and do a “clean sweep” of things they do not like and they make enemies very quickly. I liked Susan Mann’s advice, “give people a ‘way out with dignity'” [4] While Mann is speaking of the process of either laying off or just firing someone, we can take it to heart in ministry. The fact that a ministry is no longer effective for the church does not mean that the people who work it and support it are wrong, it just means we have to give them a way out of it without making them feel as if they have failed. At one time, revivals where the one of the most effective ways to reach a community, sadly, while there is still room for them, they are not as effective as they once where. Yet, there are many in church today who remember fondly the revival and want desperately to see the Spirit move again as they did in those days. As leaders we have to be vulnerable enough to listen sometimes we want to clear cut the forrest because we have a vision of what could be, an yet, in the process we hurt many people. We have to walk with them through the process, maybe not as fast as we would like it to be, and help them catch our vision for what God is planning to do, you never know what you can learn just listening without an agenda. Being vulnerable also means being able to hear when you might be wrong.

I loved the way Brown took us through her growth with time table for projects. “You’re not good at estimating time” [5] It takes a strong leader to hear what they are doing wrong and not react with a harsh word such as the “must be nice” [6]. This is a new time for anyone who wants to be a leader, especially if we want to be effective in what God has called us to. If we are to be leaders we need to hear when we have not been effective, be able to take the idea and then work to be better. As a pastor it cannot be my way or the highway we seek God’s will, give those he has given us to lead a chance to see that vision and work through it together. This does not mean there will not be hard conversations, but we can navigate them as an effective leader to work towards that goal of reaching the lost for God.

 

 

[1] Brown, Brené. Dare To Lead: Bold Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts. London: Vermilion, 2018. 19.

[2] Albright, Mary Beth. “Brene Brown knows what makes a great leader — and most politicians wouldn’t make the cut.” Washingtonpost.com, 15 Oct. 2018. Academic OneFilehttp://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A558503954/AONE?u=newb64238&sid=AONE&xid=e1bcb2bf. Accessed 12 Apr. 2019.

[3] Brown, Brené. Dare To Lead: Bold Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts. London: Vermilion, 2018. 19.

[4] Ibid. 133

[5] Ibid. 46.

[6] Ibid. 47

About the Author

mm

Jason Turbeville

A pastor, husband and father who loves to be around others. These are the things that describe me. I was a youth minister for 15 years but God changed the calling on my life. I love to travel and see where God takes me in my life.

8 responses to “Leading is hard”

  1. mm Mike says:

    Jason,
    Congrats my friend, look how far we have come. Proud of you!
    I really don’t agree with the whole “I’m willing to fail” movement. Do I fail, yes, sometimes, but God wired me to not willingly or freely consent to failure. I have fought in many battles that were physical, spiritual, and mental and the idea of failing on purpose is not in my vocabulary. Sorry Ms. Brown.
    Would you want the Captain of the passenger airplane to come on the loudspeaker and say, “this is the Captain, I’m sorry to report we have an emergency and I just wanted you to know that I am very vulnerable right now, I think I am willing to fail on this emergency checklist, I guess you will just have to wait and see how it all turns out, please return to your seat and fasten your seatbelt. Is there anyone on the plane who would like to take over for me?” Well, I hope not! We want our leaders to lead, be courageous, fight, win, and solve the emergency so we can go home to our loved ones.
    Like I told Kyle, I’m good with being vulnerable, submissive, obedient, and faithful to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, they earned it Ok. After that, I believe in a trust but verify, and if their lips are moving, well you know the rest. If People are just people then they are subject to the world, the devil, and the flesh to drive their desires and actions. I am thankful that people in Christ are not just people, but saints, saved by grace, with an immortal spirit that will serve God for eternity.
    Stand firm,
    Mike

    • mm Jason Turbeville says:

      Mike,
      I understand where you are coming from in not being ok with failing, I guess I have just seen to many people not try something because they might fail. We do learn good lessons through our failures and to be paralyzed by fear is worse than failing in my opinion. I am not looking to fail but if I do, pick myself up and try again not letting it stop me.

      Jason

  2. Jay says:

    Hi Jason!

    I was impressed at Brene Brown’s research and wanted to know more, so I found this on her website:

    https://brenebrown.com/the-research/

    Very interesting and thorough. I can see why she has credibility.

    Thanks for your article and for the semester!

  3. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Great job Jason. Your posts these last two years have always offered such a strong perspective. great point that this book is helpful far beyond the leadership world. I think its actually this book that has taken what people try to do outside of leadership, and finally has given the data and pricinples to it to back it up.

  4. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for your post and for sharing your own vulnerability in our community over these 1.5 years. (I can’t believe it’s already that long!)

    When considering changing a church’s programs, I feel we’ve been betrayed by the model of pastor espoused in Western culture – the pastor as CEO. The pastor in this model is responsible to set strategic direction and offer executive oversight. It’s a programmatic model built on stuff we do.

    I think this is the wrong approach, infected with a cultural virus and blindspots that prevent us from discerning a new (old) way to lead. How can we recover a different pastoral approach to change? We need sustainable pastoring, not a model that bleeds us out and burns us up.

    Not that you need more reading, but I think you would really enjoy a new pastoral metaphor used in this book by my friend Preston.

    https://www.amazon.ca/Bees-Rainbow-Falls-Imagination-Neighbourhood/dp/0692873090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503889288&sr=8-1&keywords=pouteaux

    Here’s his website too:

    https://www.intotheneighbourhood.ca/

    May your Holy Week be reflective and renewing.

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jason,

    It seems that you have found immediate application of this text for your own situation and ministry.

    I found this quote from the book compelling; “Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege…” (9) Some of those hard conversations you have had as a pastor are necessary both for the growth of the individual and the need to stay relevant in the community. I am glad that you are ‘unarmored’ enough to engage in these conversations when necessary, yet pastoral enough to respect the vulnerability of others. Ministry is tough work and your recognition that you are not perfect suggests the type of leadership that is most needed in our world today.

  6. Greg says:

    Jason. I just watched the video that was in Dave’s blog on the difference between empathy and sympathy. We as pastors so often feel we need to have the answers to the difficult questions. I was asked as a new pastor what words of explanation I could give to a death in the family…I had none. There is a fallacy that church leaders have all the right answers and make not mistakes. We know that is not true.

    Jason you hit the nail on the head. The church is passionate about what helped them see God. If it is revivals, types of music or some ministries we often get focused on what had an impact on us. I agree that this becomes a difficult conversation moving people to see a different way. Great patience and love are required to navigate these waters.

  7. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jason,
    I enjoyed your perspective on Brene Brown and I’m so happy you find her material helpful. You make an excellent observation about ending ministries and how the person in charge may feel offended because it’s their passion. On the flip side, I wonder how often pastor’s do the same? Feel passionately about a tradition in the service, or a way of running the service and struggle to change it up. I think I’ve experienced both from prior pastor’s. Kudos to you for being able/willing to be reflective and apply the concepts we’re learning.

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