In some churches, a kind of uneasiness exists between ministers and elders. Or, sometimes the uneasiness exists among the ministry staff or within the elder group.
In far too many instances, the relationship between these leaders has been reduced to an awkward superficial coexistence.
I am not talking about situations where there is open conflict and quarreling. Rather, I am thinking about congregations where the relational investment by leaders into one another’s lives seems to be at a minimum.
Many years ago, I was in a situation like this for a time. It was incredibly difficult. I felt alone and the need to be guarded. Something was missing that I couldn’t quite identify at the time. I just knew that I felt out of place.
In congregations where there is this uneasiness, withdrawals are often made, while the relational deposits are rare. As a result, these people no longer trust one another with their hearts.
- A minister completes his tenth year at a congregation. Nothing is said either privately or publicly to acknowledge this He feels hurt and unappreciated but then is embarrassed that this seems to matter so much to him.
- An elder wrestles with depression. He mentions this to his fellow elders and later regrets doing this. They don’t seem to take this seriously and now he wishes that he had said nothing.
- A children’s minister feels a real loneliness within the leadership group. She doesn’t feel valued by the others.
- An elder does not reveal his real opinions in the regular leadership meetings. He does not trust the intent of several of his fellow elders.
These kinds of relationships can be draining and life depleting.
Furthermore, such relationships may not be the model that the congregation’s leadership wants them to imitate.
It is very difficult for a church to rise above the character and functioning of its leaders.
Do we really want our other ministry groups to function like we do?
Do we want our families to function like we do?
Do we want the life groups in this church to function like we do?
It is incredibly important that church leaders be committed to create an encouraging environment. Often, there is not the kind of encouragement expressed that can sustain those serving as ministers or elders. Ministers and elders bless the entire congregation when they are committed to shepherding one another as leaders.