Don’t get depressed – you’ll scatter the people!

A tip for church leaders from Phil Pringle:


Successful leaders identify what gathers or scatters people; customers, clients, staff, congregation and leaders in the organisation.
People gather to light, fire, beauty, sweet fragrance, excitement, success, celebration, where they are loved, respected, welcomed and recognized; laughter, vision, bold leadership, energy, high skill, courage, the new, the clever, the excitingly different, the well done, gifts, generosity and mercy. 

People are scattered from rudeness, coldness, darkness, boredom, ugliness, bad odors, chaos, failure, depression and judgment.

Which list are you?

Stepping out with you,

More…

So what happens when you are a leader, and you do get depressed? Some highly successful leaders and people suffer from depression. Ex Victorian Premier Jeff Kennet and Comedian/Actor Gary MacDonald are two highly successful people who have put their weight behind ‘Beyond Blue’, a national non-profit organisation that deals with depression and anxiety disorders in Australia.

Or what happens when you are a leader and you fail? Like well known example Abraham Lincoln who became US President after losing eight elections, failing twice in business, and suffering a nervous breakdown.

What if you are born ugly? What if you can’t afford nice clothes, or just don’t know how to dress well?

Do leaders need to always be positive, funny, entertaining, attractive and successful in life to attract people to Jesus? Are these the qualities we should look for in our leaders, or aspire to as leaders?

Can you serve God in leadership if you are fat, ugly, dressed badly and smell? (Hmm – that last one might be a real stumbling block.)

How much do these things matter? Clearly if you are marketing a product they work. Are they things that we should then focus on when developing leaders and churches to spread the gospel?

If so, what do we do then with the congregation members who can’t or won’t fit in? Are they being sinfully obstinate in their refusal to jump on board the positive vibe?


32 thoughts on “Don’t get depressed – you’ll scatter the people!

  1. Churches seemed to be obsessed with “leadership”. I don’t think the leadership going about these days is what leadership means in a Christian sense. Leadership today is about control. How to control and manipulate people effectively, smoothly and get what you want out of the people your “leading”.

    I hate the idea that members of a church are in any way like clients, staff or customers as if Church is a business. Church should be more like a surf lifesaving club where members are volunteers, a small skilled community with a common goal of helping and saving people and meeting regularly to enhance their knowledge of the field and encourage each other at the same time.

    Some Pastors fancy themselves as business men, in their suits and expensive shoes, looking proud and slick, they want to be in the fast lane with the movers and shakers (an interesting pun). They admire wealth and prestige and suck up to the business “community” as though God ordained the art of persuasive selling!

  2. And leadership is for people who are basically charasmatics that the rest of us will want to follow. But Paul says in 2Cor that we are not to regard anyone according to the flesh but only according to the spirit.

    Paul would certainly agree with you that leadership is not about controlling people. In 2Cor1 he basically says that his leadership is about suffering so God can comfort him in the suffering so he can pass the comfort on to others who are suffering. Minimal control I think.

  3. I think too. Christian leadership is never about controlling and manipulating people although it’s not like I think the list is evil or anything, only that it’s fake and cynical. It’s probably true that people will be attracted by the one and repelled by the other but it’s better to be ourselves than come wrapped in a deceptive facade or play mind games with people or try to replicate what so-called successful leaders identify as being good or bad for business. The list states the obvious on one hand, if your running a business, but I don’t know if producing “the new, the clever and the excitingly different” is any part of christian ministry or leadership.

  4. I agree that the list isn’t evil, and can be helpful. But…

    The trouble is that the list is actually a pretty good list of qualities that make a leader attractive to people. In the short term, anyway. But to be like that all the time, and condemn yourself or regard yourself as a failure when you can’t maintain it can’t be helpful to the leader or the people. As you said, it can become fake and cynical. Leaders become actors. What happened to truth? And what happened to bearing one another’s burdens?

    Part of the problem I think is that in this context the leader is somehow superhuman, rising above the usual glut of human weakness, living on a higher plane than the rest of us. To give us an example we can aspire to. Sometimes becoming an idol or replacing the headship of Christ for some people.

    Have you heard the instruction to ‘share up, not down’? I did. It interfered with a couple of my friendships when friends who became pastors decided that I was ‘down’ and stopped sharing as they had before. The friendships then became a one way street. Naturally, I stopped sharing too, once I realised that I was no longer trusted in turn as a friend normally is. It was a real pity. But this ‘share up not down’ is part of this attempt to make a leader look the part.

    Yet the most inspiring people are often those whom we have seen pass through struggles, especially if we have recognised their struggle at the time, and it has not been hidden from us. In fact, that even gives us the opportunity to be with them and help them if we can, so we learn and practice love in community with one another. The leader does not place himself above us but alongside us, and we are encouraged – and even humbled – as we see their real life example.

    So I would hate to see the philosphy in that comment, while good for effective marketing in the short term, replace the sharing and community that I believe we are really meant to grow in. It’s good to see people doing well, being positive, etc but only if we also see them when they are struggling as well. Both are part of life.

  5. Successful leaders identify what gathers or scatters people; customers, clients, staff, congregation and leaders in the organisation. People gather to light, fire, beauty, sweet fragrance, excitement, success, celebration, where they are loved, respected, welcomed and recognized; laughter, vision, bold leadership, energy, high skill, courage, the new, the clever, the excitingly different, the well done, gifts, generosity and mercy.
    People are scattered from rudeness, coldness, darkness, boredom, ugliness, bad odors, chaos, failure, depression and judgment.

    Which list are you?

    Hopefully not this list. Do you realise that Hitler fits in with all that’s above.
    People saw him as a visionary and revolutionist.
    He bought the fire, passion, excitement, life, laughter, the arts, the great artists, bold leadership, high skill, courage, THE NEW, the CLEVER, the EXCITINGLY DIFFERENT, generosity, mercy and gifts.

    He was one who showed the German’s the light and God. He was referred to by the German’s as the German Messiah! The third reich was in reference to Christ’s Millenial Kingdom- where the Jews believed that this man was to establish this 1000 year reign.

    Does the church so easily forget that man will quite happily sell his soul for any of these things that Phil himself suggests that church leadership must have? To truelly have such ‘successful’ qualities?

    In Phil’s own words, he rules out Jesus, His disciples and the great Apostle Paul from this standard of success as ‘true leaders’. He rules out the prophets of the Old Testament, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, etc. Now lets look at some great historical figures.

    Mother Theresa? New? Beautiful? Sweet fragrance? Great thinker?
    Ay-ay!

    I think Phil describes Satan pretty well. An angel of light. Adorned. Beautiful. Cunning. Clever. Witty. Tempting. Bold. Leader of multitudes… Passionate… Brings the fire (hah!)… energy, vision, brings the new. Satan knows these tactics and uses them too all for his glory.

    WHich list am I on?
    Hopefully the list where everyone treats me like a human being and not like some exalted God who can’t escape the eyes of those see the fake side of you all the time.

  6. “I think Phil describes Satan pretty well. An angel of light. Adorned. Beautiful. Cunning. Clever. Witty. Tempting. Bold. Leader of multitudes… Passionate… Brings the fire (hah!)… energy, vision, brings the new. Satan knows these tactics and uses them too all for his glory.”

    LOL! Good point, S&P.

    So maybe the list actually is evil?

  7. “Now lets look at some great historical figures.”
    Oops! Started and forgot to finish.
    Look at:

    Ghandi
    Luther
    Mandella
    Luther King Junior

    They all had some major flaws. Churchhill himself had some nasty ones.
    Abraham Lincoln was another. For him to actually be president he committed his life to free-masonry for he found that to be the only way to get himself into the whitehouse.

  8. Actually, I just realised, the Reverend Moon (see Wazza’a latest post) regarded Jesus as a failure. And he is supported by some major religious right leaders. Maybe they were all using that list.

  9. “LOL! Good point, S&P.

    So maybe the list actually is evil?”

    Well, how can it be good if this standard rejects the Jesus is talked about in the bible?
    By all means, do good and live a good life, but by no means take the bait of this swinging carrot. Otherwise the guy will be riding your back til you die of exhaustion.

  10. Plus, if prosperity is used a measure of God’s favour, then no wonder they endorse the Rev Moon. He donated over $3 Billion US Dollars to various US political and religious organisations, it seems.

  11. The list can be OK as a general list of qualities of effective leadership in a very human sense. It doesn’t talk about ethics though, or whether those styles if adhered to as a must, are suited to leadership within the church, where Jesus turned the worldly model on upside down in many, many ways.

  12. It begs the question how someone who thought they were led of God would go in Phil’s church if they had this list:

    Of no reputation (phil 2:7)
    ordinary and unnatractive (Isaiah 53:2)
    despised and a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3)
    who weeps openly (John 11:35)
    violent (john 2:15)
    rude (matt 23:33)
    humiliated (crucifiction)
    cursed (hung on a tree)

    would you follow a man like this ????

  13. I would find it hard to be the friend of Jeremiah or Job.
    Woah! They would be an earful!

    Would anyone associate themselves with Noah as well?
    Everyone would be staying away from a guy building a weird structure that took him 120 years to build! He would have been one obsessive guy who would have had quite an anti-social life. He would have no time for church. No one listened or followed his preaching.

  14. ravingpente Says:
    April 21, 2008 at 3:53 am

    “Have you heard the instruction to ’share up, not down’?”

    I never have, it sounds like more mind games and control tactics.

  15. I’m glad that one hasn’t come across your radar, RM.

    It’s all part of any success manual. It has it’s place – in educating corporate managers. It also reflects a certain personality type – there are successful leaders who offer different traits. Depends on what sector you are in. In the creative or design realm for example, there will be some quite different qualities in a successful leader than in the financial realm, or the medical realm. Dressing up, not down is kind of profession specific, too. Dress appropriately would probably be better.

    Just as an aside, I wonder what his description of a successful female leader would be? Sometimes those qualities are percieved quite differently when they appear in a woman.

    Actually, in business, a lot of those behaviours are very useful. Competence, brevity, analytical and decisive ability, excellent grooming – all help make a successful manager – preferably they are good with people too.

    So my question is whether business criteria are suitable qualities for leadership in a church. Well – if the church is modelled on a business, then yes.

    So, should a church be modelled on a business?

    Personally, I think there are dangers in following that model, which ought to be recognised. That would result in the criteria and sought after qualities for leadership changing.

    I think business is an unsuitable model for a church, particularly with the potential for the corruption and idolatry that comes from hierarchy and power, and given what the Bible warns about such things. But it is a very pragmatic approach.

    If its going to get done this way, there needs to be more acknowledgement of the potential pitfalls or it will just be a copy of the world, and will restrict the growth of the body of Christ within. There will be people in there who should be heard, and should be acknowledged as elders or leaders who won’t fit the criteria, and the local body will be the poorer for not doing so. Also, there is a great need for accountability and transparency, or it will decay from within.

  16. I think PP is projecting the ideal church as a marketing ploy. You project the ideal (“sell the dream”) and people who are looking for the ideal and don’t yet have it (that is, everyone who is looking for the ideal) will come.

    This worked on me 20+ years ago. My Methodist church had gone charismatic in parts but the “church” was not charismatic (that is, the pastor was not), just a dozen or so people. But down Dee Why way there was CCC living the dream with hundreds (then) of them. So I left and went down and others did similar things. Now I wish we had all stayed there and continued the journey together with what we had (community) rather than then running off to some others who claim to have arrived.

    I don’t think now that we ever “arrive” in a sense, not while we are in the flesh as it were anyway. PP can project the perfect church/leader but true perfection has to come later. We grow together on a journey – and the journey itself is important.

    Mt 2c anyway.

  17. Hi heretic, 1,
    my name is Tim Elliott, and I’ma journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald. I am doing a story on CCC, and would like to talk to anyone who hasbeen a member. Can you call me (02 9282 1926), or email: telliott@smh.com.au

  18. Sorry Tim but I don’t think I will. My objections to what my church does are largely theological and don’t see any relevance to the popular press.

  19. Maybe someone can give him a spill on the conference.
    That’s probably why he’s on here. To find out what CCC is planning to do in the city.

    Rather then do a story on CCC, he should send up the rivalry between CCC and Hillsong and show how they leave the local ministries as jokes.

  20. Do you think after the journo’s who reported on the Afghan and Iraq war and how ‘violent’ demonstrators rocked the nation, will be any more honest about their coverage on religious institutions?

    This story will only further stereotype the church and taint every other church with the same brush.

  21. Maybe a good post would be, “Are journos fair to churches?”, or “Does the media seek sensation or truth on church matters?”

  22. Is there ever a situation where people should consider talking to the media, FL? Or is church a bit like Vegas, what goes on there stay in there?

  23. I think talking to the media about some issues is OK, as long as it is fairly reported and not sensationalised. It’s a matter of trust, like anything.

    Certainly church groups should put out press releases, and use the media to clarify their position on issues, and not all media representatives are sharks, but how do you now who is reasonable and who isn’t?

  24. Why do you think that theology will not be of public interest, Heretic?

    I’d like to see a newspaper article that canvassed theological differences and what it all means.

  25. FL, I’d stay well clear of those sharks in the Daily Tele, as they will not give you a fair hearing. Unless of course your church has “God hates Fags” in its name.

  26. So you think gay lobbyists are going out of their way to keep the definition of marriage according to Aussie law intact, and respected as such in schools?

  27. Why would you believe what the reporters say about the “Gay lobby”, when you dont trust them to report accurately on Church matters?

  28. So you DO think gay lobbyists are going out of their way to keep the definition of marriage according to Aussie law intact, and respected as such in schools?

  29. Why do you often respond to a difficult question with another question on a different topic? Isn’t that a little disingenuous?

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