Trust is the fuel that leadership runs on, especially in church-world. When trust is high there is an environment for momentum, wins are celebrated, and people follow leadership because they believe in the leader and where the leader is taking them. When trust is low skepticism runs high, progress comes to a screeching halt, and the tenure of the leader is short-lived. Below are four ways leadership of church leaders is commonly eroded.
1. Follow Through
The easiest way for church leaders to build trust is to follow through on, and do what they say they’re going to do. Unfortunately this is also the easiest way to lose trust. This kind of trust can be won or lost at a very low level. For instance, if people in the church body leave voice-mails, send emails, and turn in communication cards from the weekend services that aren’t followed up on in a timely manner you can lose trust in a heartbeat. This kind of behavior in the organization is ultimately an indictment on your leadership as the pastor, because you’re the one leading. And by the way, “timely manner” in the market place is much different than “timely manner” in church world.
Integrity is the degree to which your public, private, and personal life, line up. Your public life is the part of your life everyone sees. Your private life is the part of your life only those closest to you see. Your personal life is the part of your life that only you see. When these three areas of your life aren’t in alignment you run into character flaws that can show up in some pretty damaging ways. When this happens church leaders forfeit the trust of their congregations.
3. Moral Authority
Nothing is worse than hearing someone communicate with their actions, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It doesn’t work in parenting, and it doesn’t work in leadership. If you want to build trust as a pastor you need to lead with moral authority. That means if you want your church to be authentic then you need to go first and demonstrate authenticity through your teaching and leadership approach. If you want a church of small groups then you need to be in a small group. Leaders who build trust with their congregation go first.
Sometimes leaders can lose trust by moving too fast and not “earning the right to lead,” after all just because you have the title of “pastor” doesn’t mean you’re the leader yet. This is commonplace in churches. However the opposite is true as well. If you have earned the right to lead and you don’t have the courage to cash in the leadership chips you’ve earned you can lose the trust of your congregation. They’re waiting for you to lead, so lean into the trust you’ve built and lead, otherwise you’ll lose it.
Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation