Sunday, October 7, 2012

Leadership and Sabotage

This is a word of encouragement to all leaders of large and small enterprises. If you are a leader, you are undoubtedly facing challenges from those who follow you. I  would encourage you to get a copy of Ruth Haley Barton's, Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership: Seeking God in the crucible of Ministry, to help you stay strong. Here's a short quote from her book...

One of the basic disciplines that characterized Moses' life as a spiritual leader was his commitment to intercessory prayer, and it seemed to be essential to his ability to sustain himself in ministry and find the wisdom he needed. But in order to carry the people into God's presence with a pure heart and real commitment to their well-being, he needed to understand what was really going on. 
The late Edwin Friedman, in his work applying family systems theory to life in congregations, says that criticism of the leader (which is a form of sabotage) is so predictable that it should be viewed as part and parcel of the leadership process itself. 
Self-differentiated leadership always triggers sabotage which is a systemic part of leadership--so that a leader can never assume success merely because he or she had brought change. It is only after having first brought about change and then subsequently endured the resultant sabotage that the leader can feel truly successful. When the sabotage comes, this is the moment when the leader is most likely to experience a failure of nerve and seek a quick fix. 
This pattern of complaining and blaming the leader repeated itself with utter predictability throughout their journey and Moses dealt with it in a couple of different ways:

1. He refrained from taking it all too personally
2. He refused to accept responsibility for what was ultimately God's responsibility
3. He refused to take on the weight of the Israelites' expectations.
4. He would not allow them to treat him as if he were God, nor behave as though he were responsible for something he was not.

Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord (Exodus 16:7-8).