7 Actions When You Can’t Respect the Leader

I received a message from a staff member of another church recently. He is struggling with the current leadership and wondering how long he can continue to be where he doesn’t support the vision and direction of the pastor. He wanted my advice on how he should be responding during this season of ministry.

This situation is obviously not unique to churches, but also happens frequently in other organizations. One problem is that in this economy, it’s much harder to transfer jobs, so many people are feeling stuck with their current position. I don’t believe all hope is lost during these times and an individual can continue to grow even with a leader he or she cannot respect.

Here are 7 actions I encouraged him to do:

Talk to God – That’s an obvious, but sometimes it’s not the obvious that we do. Ask God to reveal to you His purposes for your life. It could be He’s preparing you for something, stirring the nest so-to-speak, or that you are in a time of testing. Don’t assume God is absent during this time. I assure you He’s not asleep at the wheel and has a plan. The closer you are to Him during this time the sooner you’ll understand that plan.

Keep working – Most of us need a paycheck. Be grateful while you have one. Unless you know for certain you are to quit, it is destroying you or your family, or you sense something immoral is happening, there’s nothing wrong with working until you find something else.

Do your best – While you are there be above reproach in your work ethic. Make it your aim to prepare for your successor and to leave your area of responsibility better than you found it when you arrived.

Follow the leader – I know. That’s the tough one, but as long as you’re there you must respect authority. You may not respect him as a leader but you can respect him as the boss.

Learn all you can – The fact is we learn more during the stressful and difficult times, so be a sponge. You may gain all the wisdom of what not to do when you are in control, but you will learn something if you try.

Be thankful for the connections and experience – You will be gaining connections in the church (work) world…or at least you have that opportunity. It’s easier to network when you’re in the field than it is once you are no longer working. Be thankful for that opportunity.

Be a cheerleader for life – You may not enjoy your work setting but you can still be a positive life influence for those around you. Use your smile and your pleasant disposition as an encourager for others. You’ll feel better about yourself after you eventually leave.

Keep watching – Be open to what God will do next in your life. It may not be what you are expecting. Chances are good it will stretch you and require a leap of faith. Prepare your heart, family and attitude for that opportunity when it arrives.

By the way, because I know someone will think this, my friend understands the concept of a call but isn’t sure God hasn’t already released him from his assignment. He just can’t find another position right now.

I have thoughts on the call I can share in another post, but basically I believe the call is more to a person (Christ) than to a location. I think we often confuse those two and the person call trumps the location call every time.

Have you ever been in this position?

What would you say to my friend? What advice would you give him?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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27 thoughts on “7 Actions When You Can’t Respect the Leader

  1. Ron,
    I too found myself in a position of disagreeing with the leadership and lack of vision. Spent months in prayer and seeking God's direction. I finally resigned my job and have spent the past nine months volunteering at a church 200 miles from my home – because I believe God wanted to use me there! Waiting on Him takes on a whole new meaning!

  2. Wow. I am in that “stuck” position right now! Thanks for reminding me of the obvious. “talk to G-d” duh me! Been talking to people and honestly my prayers have just been “please help me get through tonight” and not the bigger picture

  3. You must be reading my email(LOL)! I am going through this right now. I know of black and white – clear cut embezzlement but know one is willing to do anything about it! And the offender has said, "you are right, now what are you going to do about it?".

    I have to feed my family but I can't turn a blind eye on sin. But God gave me strength through His word in Eccl 10:4 If the ruler's temper rises against you, don't abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.

    • Ha! Not reading your emails, but I have heard this story before. This is tough and would be very difficult for me to live with long.

  4. I was in this very situation only a year ago. It seemed the more I prayed about it the more I felt I needed to stay right where I was. I continued to work, did the best I could in the circumstances I had and waited. It seemed God was doing nothing! I prayed to defend myself. Absolutely not! I prayed to try to present the Gospel to my superior, again, NO! Not making any sense at all, I enlisted the help of friends and they said they didn't want to get involved. That seemed odd! I go back to God again; The impression I got was the more I tried to do anything except the job God put me there to do, there would be too many cooks in the kitchen! That was the chief mistake I was making; "I" was doing all "I" could, not allowing Him to work. When "I" got out of the way, my boss was transferred and I got back to doing the job I enjoyed!

  5. I wish I had heard some of this early in my ministry. I lost confidence in the senior leader and struggled for 3 years until the door opened to leave. I grew a lot during that time. Some days it was all I could do to put on the game face. I had a few confidants who were there for me and encouraged me as I pressed on. I feel that now my ministry is better for the hardship I endured early.

  6. — Have a larger perspective than immediate trouble to see the larger good in life
    — Hang on hanging on
    — Take heart – there will be calm after storm
    — Remember the words of ‘Charles Rozell Swindoll’
    “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”

  7. My simple advice would be to trust God and follow His peace.
    In any and every situation, Romans 8:28 still applies: everything will be used for our good and ultimately for His glory. We must be faithful to Him, even during times of testing and trials and maybe even persecution, be it from co-workers, our bosses, or Satan himself.
    …or maybe God is using this situation to open other doors. Sometimes, we have to make hard decisions in order to step out in faith of what He has planned for us. In either situation, it's important to trust God and to follow His peace in any and every situation.

  8. I'm in this situation now, I would only add – keep knocking on doors if he knows he should leave. Some doors (like automatic doors) won't open until you are right in front of them.

  9. I was in this very situation 2 years ago. I asked the same questions. Advice from someone much wiser was to lay the cards out on the table. I told the pastor I worked for where I stood (where he and I differed) and he basically gave me two weeks. It was abrupt but liberating.
    Twitter: rwren

  10. You know that’s so true Ron. How many times In scripture were Gods people in captivity under the rule of an unrighteous leader… Yet in their praise to God and patience God always led them to freedom. Life is an attitude. Lets praise god during the hard times

  11. Thanks for the post Ron. Good stuff. It’s a tough place to be in a place when you don’t agree with the leadership or mission/vision.

    Great encouragement. Love the ‘your called to Christ, not a location’!

  12. BTDT… this is good advice if you have not been released. If you make your displeasure (confessed confusion) about these issues known to the leader (and leadership) maybe he (they) can help you work through it and come to agree. Maybe he can see things your way and come to a consensus.

    If not, agree to disagree and keep working for His good. In my situation, once I made it known that I was confused about the vision and direction of the new leader our 'working on it' made him see my point of view and I came to understand his. This and some concerted prayer helped us workthrough the situation and the body and our relationship was better for it .

    I also had the situation where my 'confusion' with their vision and direction was labelled 'treasonous sedition,' was flayed alive in the consensus meeting and thrown to the wolves. Unfortunately for them, my questions and observations won over the Alpha of the pack and the leadershipy were gone within 30 days.