Do they know? An introduction.

I remember the conversation well.  It was three-and-a-half years ago, and our church staff was meeting for the first time with the man who would later become our new senior pastor.  

He knew some of the recent history of our church… the conflict, confusion, and frustration … the plateau in our momentum & health… so he asked us very direct questions.  He asked our opinions of what had happened.  He asked how we were doing.  He asked us how we thought the people of the church were doing.  And then he asked this:

“Do they know that you love them?” 

Do they–the people of this church–know that you–the leaders of this church–love and care for them?

My immediate inner response? “Are they supposed to?”

Which was quickly followed by a careening set of “ohmygosh I’m so messed up of course they should know that because it should be true and we should be showing them and there should be no question.”

This little 14-thought-pile-up happened inside a person who had walked through several years of church conflict, some of which was personal and some of which was not.  In an environment where survival seemed to be the only goal, ministry was motivated by a tangle of obligation and passion and intention and accidental discovery.  I was aware of two realities at work: the reality that God was still sustaining and caring for His church, and the reality that my inner conversation was peppered with cynicism and hopelessness.  

“Do they know that you love them?”

I was surprised at how foreign this thought was for me. I don’t think it had occurred to me to intentionally make an effort to express to the people I lead that I actually love them.  What did occur to me was just how much of a messy leader I had become. Had I taken on bad leadership practices? Had I failed to take on good ones? Why in the world was God keeping me around in such a state?

I still can’t figure out that last question, but I know that as a result of being ‘kept around’,  I am being taught by great leaders. Books and blogs about leadership are helpful, but my perspective has been permanently changed for the better by experienced leaders looking me in the eye while displaying and teaching godly leadership in a million different situations.

“Do they know that you love them?”

I’m going to write a bit this week about how I see great leaders expressing their love and appreciation to those they lead.  Stick around. It doesn’t always look like what you’d expect!

6 thoughts on “Do they know? An introduction.

  1. cynthia… I agree that it’s important to affirm anyone you’re leading. I think I had been doing that. It was this idea of the church knowing that the staff really loves them… that angle, that perspective was new to me.

    mandy… from what I remember reading of how you lead your congregation, I think they know you care about them. You are intentional about leading them in a way that fits them but challenges them just enough. But, you know, if you don’t think that’s doing it, feel free to buy them chocolate. :)

  2. OH wow. This is a great question. I think the greatest connection church leadership can make with their congregation is to communicate how much they care about them… whew.

    How do I do that? How do I accomplish that? mmmm. I need to get on it!

  3. I learned from a great mentor about the power of praise. I was horrible at it – I guess that is why he shared it with me! I go overboard now, probably, but I know that I did a bad job at this early in my ministry. Check out our church campus blog today – I gave some love!

    Can’t wait to see you in a week!

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