10 Ways to Avoid the Arrogance of Power

Orginally published on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 2:44 AM
by Todd Rhoades

I'm sure most don't feel like you have too much 'power' in your church; but when you think of it... few positions hold as much power at times as ministry. And if you are prone to be a take charge person, you can quickly find yourself taking a bit too much joy in your position of power... joy that many times will evolve, over time, into arrogance. The "Great Leadership" blog recently featured a list of ten ways that you can avoid the arrogance of power... and I thought that they would be good as a reminder to those of us in ministry...

Here they are.  You can run over to the Great Leadership blog for more information… it’s well worth the read...

1. Encourage and reward dissent.

2. Spend time with customers.

3. Read and answer your own email.

4. Be visible and accessible.

5. Have regular “fireside chats” with randomly selected, vertical slices of employees.

6. Do regular “deep dives” with as many departments as possible.

7. Call the corporate travel agent and schedule a road trip.

8. Conduct regular employee and customer surveys.

9. Work with an executive coach who’s willing to get in your face and tell it like it is.

10. Leverage technology and social networking.

OK… obviously, this was written for a corporate head in mind.  I can hear you now… “Todd… I don’t have a corporate travel agent or even any employees to ‘vertically slice’.” That’s ok… Take for instance, #2:  we all know who our customers are.  And apply #8 to your volunteer base if you need to.  It’s possible to be extremely arrogant with power in the very small church just like the big church.

What areas do you need to do this week?  Do you consider yourself arrogant at times?

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  There are 5 Comments:

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    In the church, you need to work overtime to actively give away leadership, especially to the next generation. I routinely invite 20-somethings on teams whenever I can, and also work with teens as often as I can, too. It’s harder work, they are less reliable, but someday, when I’m too old to be relevant, it will pay off like crazy! These people feel like this is THEIR church. They OWN it. They ARE Jesus’ church, they don’t go there.

    As worship Arts pastor of my church, I am responsible for the worship teams, but for two months this year, January and February, I don’t lead any of them. The one I normally lead is now led by somebody (who I still play for) who does a great job, but last weekend, we did every song different from how I would have. Ask me how many of those songs I said to the guy “Hey, we should do it this way instead”. Zero. Two other teams I don’t play on at all, and the fourth is another long story, but a good one…

    In short… Do NOT always get your own way, and work hard to make sure you don’t.

    And yes, I’m arrogant too much, and yes, I have people who smack me down when I need it!

  • Posted by Tye Male

    This is good. I was run over by yet another egotistical, arrogant, self-serving, controlling pastor back in January. When I asked him about his behavior he chastised me and quoted the bible.

    Why is it that the ministry seems to attract these narcissistic self-serving types of people?

    Thanks for getting the word out about servant leadership. Speaking of which, I start another lead like Jesus group in a couple weeks.

  • Posted by

    I think Peter you make a great point about giving away power.  Ministry is the one position you should be actively trying to work your way out of (at least training someone else as you go)

    Cross Cultural Ministry was the best training ground for me in this area, as my call was to build up a ministry area, train indigenous leadership, and the walk away and start a new one.

    At first it was very very hard.  But as I went along I realized what a privilege and joy it was.  That truly my greatest joy was in handing over the ministry to the person that I had had this training relationship with.  Letting go was hard in a lot of ways.  But I got to where it became a personal celebration of sorts.

    I think arrogance creeps in when we think we have all the answers and become unteachable.

  • Posted by Dan McCarthy

    Todd -
    Thanks for referencing my post, I’m honored.

  • Posted by Andy Wood

    Do I consider myself arrogant at times?  Usually not before my wife does! 

    I do read and answer my own email (is it possible to do it otherwise?).  And I’m fascinated by the social networking thing, simply because when I’m MySpacing with our youth group or Facebooking with everybody else, the ground really feels level.

    Tye, I agree that the ministry does attract these types of people.  But more often, the ministry transforms otherwise-humble people into those narcissistic, self-serving types.  It is intoxicating to simply mention an idea or two and have them treated as a mandate from God.  It is exilerating to be needed by needy and grateful people.  It is beyond exciting to have people quote you, “amen” you, and write down notes of the things you say.  And the compliments!  Mercy, Bertie! 

    The danger comes, of course, when we actually start believing all those complements.

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