One of the most common things I run into in my coaching practice is pastoral intimidation. By this I don’t mean the pastor intimidating his/her parishoners (although there’s plenty of this) but the people intimidating the pastor. It’s a subtle thing that is hard for the pastor to recognize let alone admit.
Many pastors avoid confrontation for fear of the ramifications. I don’t blame them. In some churches a confrontation with the church board can result in the pastor getting fired. If aunt Suzie is an influential member of the church you’d better not ruffle her feathers or there will be a price to pay. We want to grow our church not shrink it so we strive to keep people happy. If in our attempt to lead we step on someone’s toes or offend someone they might leave taking their money and help with them. In a church that is struggling financially (and many are in this category) and for a pastor who is barely making enough to live on (and there are many in this category) loosing people can lead to having your salary cut. Once again, these are legitimate concerns that I do not fault the pastor for having.
The problem with all of this is that the pastor is leading out of fear and intimidation, which is a very difficult way (if not impossible way) to lead. They become ‘people-pleasers’. They avoid at all costs ‘rocking the boat’. They know what needs to be said or what needs to be done but due to intimidation they avoid and back down. I understand this. I’ve done this.
Unless we detach from the need to be liked we will never lead like the Father wants us to lead. Until we stop needing the approval of our people, our board, aunt Suzie, we will remain frustrated as pastors and the Father’s will for our church will be frustrated.
Sometimes it takes courage to pastor. True, we must pick our battles wisely, but to think that we will get out of this without a battle, a fight, without taking a hit, is unrealistic.
Does fear affect your leadership?
Are there people in your church that intimidate you?
What would have to happen for you to rise above this?
How might you pray about this?
You can’t really lead your people if you need your people.