How Avoiding Difficult People is Negatively Impacting Your Leadership

Every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will be ultimately greater”

This is a quote I saw by former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair recently. While he was referring to a situation in the Middle East, he outlines a great leadership principle for all leaders to consider. Here is another way of saying it:

Walking away from the difficult situations of today will only mean having to deal with bigger problems tomorrow. A ‘fire’ of today can easily become a ‘wildfire’ tomorrow…

wildfire leadership

Bill Hybels once said something like, “Ministry is one difficult conversation after another.” It’s true, and unfortunately, if you are in a position of leadership you will inevitably have to face a challenging conversation with someone.

Sadly, you and I have learned from other leaders that passive aggressive behavior and avoidance is the “Christian thing to do.”

Not only is this untrue, it is unhelpful and damaging to your leadership and the church as a whole. Matthew 18 clearly outlines a direct approach to dealing with disagreement. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul clearly instructs young Timothy to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” And the key in this passage is to correct and rebuke in an encouraging, patient, and careful way…

Therefore, when we see a problem starting to grow with a behavior or action of someone in our ministry, it is better to have a conversation early on. Failure to face the situation will lead to others being impacted negatively and strong leaders in our ministry will lose respect for us when we fail to face an issue that is apparent to them. Over the long haul, strong leaders will leave when they see weak leadership…

Are you the difficult one?  If you are like me, there have been many times when I have been the difficult leader to others. Who around you has permission to speak truth into your life and call you out when you are the difficult one? As leaders, it’s imperative that we surround ourselves with people who can challenge us and sharpen us. Are you surrounded by “yes people” or people who have the permission to point out the difficult moments in your life?

Start today? Who is someone you need to speak to this week? What situations are become wildfires in your ministry? What lessons have you been learning by allowing problematic behavior to continue in your ministry? Who do you need to forgive ? Who needs to forgive you?

Finally, this post was written with no particular person or recent situations in mind. If you are a difficult person in my life, know that I love you enough to speak to you face to face 🙂

Phil <><

Images courtesy of Grace Trivino Creative Commons


What Amazon Can Teach Church Leaders About Volunteers…

A while back I saw an interesting article in USA Today about Amazon and how they are paying their employees up to $5000 to leave if they are not completely ‘sold out’ on their position at Amazon. Why would they do that, and what can church leadership learn from them?

amazon volunteer church

Why? According to the leadership at Amazon, they consider it a better prospect to offload staff who are disgruntled or not completely enthralled with their position. Here’s what they said:

“The goal is to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want… In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

A Lesson for Church Leadership? Am I promoting that churches pay their members to leave? Some of you reading this can already think of those people who you might like to ‘pay off.’ However, that is not my point. Here is the principle we can apply to our volunteers in the local church:

Ensure that volunteers find a place to serve where they can use their gifts in an area they are passionate about. When volunteers serve out of obligation in an area they are not passionate about, it is likely the ministry will suffer and the volunteer will not last… 


Give volunteers opportunities to discover their passion and giftedness, and be prepared for them to move into other areas if their passion and gifts are not being used effectively. 

A Short-sighted View: There is a temptation to take any ‘warm body’ to serve in your ministry, but this is such a short-sighted view as a leader. I would prefer to struggle with a small committed team of volunteers than struggle with a large number of ‘misplaced’ or obligated volunteers.

Who in your ministry needs your time to discover their sweet spot for serving? Who in your ministry is misplaced or serving out of obligation? Who needs permission to move into another area of ministry? From my experience, when we look to the interests of our volunteers and where they best fit, God always provides more volunteers to fill their shoes!

Phil <><






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