Friday, February 22, 2008

Are They Linked?

It was a great conversation today with a pastor-friend who was sharing some of the stress he is experiencing right now in his church. It's a healthy church with a lot of good things going on. Yet, when he meets with his leadership topics come up like stewardship, staff effectiveness, worship vitalization, evangelism, etc. When the group talks about it, they end up turning to him and saying something to the effect: "that's why you are our leader...lead us!" And when he takes steps to address a situation, comments come back to him that say "you are acting pretty bossy, you don't have that kind of authority.
This is a really good topic for most of us pastors, especially those of us in the role of senior or lead (or solo) pastor. The church looks to us for leadership and often holds us accountable for leadership, yet we often can feel short-changed with commensurate authority. 
Some author (whose name I forget but do not wish to plagiarize) said "Responsibility needs to be linked to authority. Those who who are given responsibility over a given area must have commensurate authority to be responsible." He (or maybe she) stressed the critical link between responsibility and authority. If my compensation is tied to how well I manage the weather, I'm in deep trouble! That's a recipe for major stress and burn-out. 
The challenge for pastors and leadership teams is to clearly communicate where we (as pastors) are and are not responsible and what authority goes with that area of responsibility. The biggest topic I heard about during the Covenant Midwinter Conference was in the area of staff leadership. How much authority do you (and should you) have over staff? Does the church hire and fire staff, yet hold the pastor responsible for their performance? What authority does a supervising pastor have over non-performing staff (MCC staff, this is not about you, honest! I'll talk with you first before I ever blog about you!)? Where does the leadership team come into play? Where should a pastor not have authority to protect him/her? 
In Minnesota we were exploring the Team Leadership model of governance as I was leaving. It was, in my view, one of the best leadership models because it tried to clearly delineate lines of both responsibility and authority. With the Covenant's deep commitment to congregational polity and transparency in process, what will be the emerging shapes and directions for churches (small, medium and large)?


At 5:03 PM , Blogger M Squared said...

You set someone up for failure by holding them responsible for something without giving them the appropriate authority (at least). Equally problematic is someone who wants authority but avoids responsibility. They are very much linked and it's a two way street.

Do you have favorite Team Leadership resources (in the context of church governance)?

At 8:14 AM , Blogger kent said...

Edwin Friedman said that responsibility without authority equals burnout. The issue is how to gain authority. Because of our positions we see things that others do not, we have a vantage point into the lives of the congregation and individual families that allows to see some of the dynamics that are being played out. We see all the ministries asa totality not the singular vision that leads to siloing which is so common.

By refraining from anxiety we can be the reasoned voice that show the path to take which may gain us the authority we need to move the mission forward. It not merely positional authority, it is relational authority as well.


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