Ron Edmondson: One of the Worst Leadership Mistakes We Make as Pastors

Be honest with yourself: Is your leadership of the church being dominated by a few negative voices?

There are many leadership mistakes we make as pastors. I’m certain I make one nearly every day.

This post is only about one mistake. One of the worst.

And, frankly, I’m as guilty of this one as anyone. I think most of us are prone to making this mistake. In any realm of leadership.

Here is one of the worst mistakes pastors make in leadership:

Pursuing the few negative voices in lieu of pursuing the majority supporters.

Have you been guilty of that mistake?

Be careful. There is a biblical principle here.

“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6)

When we place our focus on the few negatives, it injures everyone.

We cater to them.
We try to appease them.
We worry about them.
We neglect the greater good.

And, in the end, here’s the strange part I’ve seen:

We usually find out that nothing we could have done would have made them happy anyway.

Wasted energy.

And, in the process, everyone loses.

The bottom line is that this mistake drains your energy as a leader and keeps you from investing fully in people who are believers in the vision, support leadership and are ready to help you build a great church.

It’s counterproductive. At best.

Be honest with yourself.

Is your leadership of the church being dominated by a few negative voices?

That said, we should listen to negative voices. We grow that way. I have written before that I even listen to anonymous voices. I’ve written about the right ways and the wrong ways to respond to criticism. I’m not afraid of criticism. I just believe we have to be careful that we filter them in a healthy way.

For example, when you deal with critical people, ask yourself:

1. Are these people generally positive, supportive people—or are they negative, divisive people?

2. Is what they are saying helpful? If you took their suggestion, would it improve the overall vision of the church?

3. Do they represent a larger audience—or are they lone voices? You need to know if the criticism is representative or personal. The fact is, some people will never be on board with the direction of the church and you can’t do anything about that. Sometimes they represent a larger audience.

Your answers should change the weight you carry and the attention you give to their complaints. And, frankly, the amount of time you allot to appeasing those complainers.

I know. Heavy post, right? And, if you’ve been yielding to the few negative voices, it might even sting a bit.

On the other hand, if you’re one of the negative voices—the kind who is wasting everyone’s time—well, you don’t like me much right now. I just called you out. Sorry about that.

Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.