Friday, December 10, 2010

For Leaders (and others)

So the other day I heard, once again, an exasperated leader talking about counseling people in their care.

“I don’t get it. It’s should be so easy. You listen to their story, tell them what they need to do, and then check back with them to make sure they did it. That, along with getting more into the Word and being transparent with a small group for ongoing accountability.”

Of course, then I ask how it’s working for them. And you can guess the answer. Not so very well. So I ask what they think the problem might be.

“People just don’t listen very well” is usually the answer.

Now, I agree with the above synopsis in principle. It’s the distillation of the process down to a neat package that has me shaking my head. I’m afraid people are just a lot more complex than that.  

I really don’t think that people aren’t listening so much as not trusting. It takes time to establish a bond strong enough for someone to be willing to take your advice. And leaders that are exhorters by nature may be operating in that blind spot – underestimating what is required. Sometimes it takes a great deal of investment in a person before their ‘hearing’ improves. Leaders must ask themselves whether they are operating outside of their spiritual gifts when offering counsel.

Romans 5:8 says this: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is this establishment of love that draws others towards us and gives us credibility when attempting to speak into their lives. We have another saying that closely relates to the scripture.

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Some people are harder to love and care for than others. It may seem like not worth the effort. But as Christ demonstrated, it is the job of a true leader to be sacrificial. However, the scope of the sacrifice has to be carefully considered. We can only have a limited amount of people drawing on our strength at any one time. Overestimating our emotional capacity can be another blind spot.

I don’t want to discourage leaders. You provide vision and security. Your abilities are a gift to us. Whether you lead solely in your family, or on a much broader platform, you are needed. So don't give up if you find yourself struggling in this endeavor -- but do check for blind spots.   

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