We have a lot of absentee landlords in today’s world. I am talking about people who don’t want to own what they own, help fix what is broken and maintain what is theirs. As Christians, and as Christian leaders in particular, it is vitally important that we own what has been handed to this. I am not saying that the elders own the church. I am saying that elders and ministers should have an attitude of ownership when it comes to the people and responsibilities they have been entrusted with by God.
Elders and ministers who have an attitude of “ownership” are fully invested. They are all in. They are not just there to take the blame when something bad happens. They are there to help things grow and flourish. When things go south they don’t pass the buck or figure out who is to blame. They own whatever part of the mess is theirs to own. There is a fear of liability in our world today but people generally respect a leader who is willing to own up to their mistakes. It actually builds credibility to admit you are wrong or that you went about something the wrong way or with an inappropriate attitude. You cannot build trust with someone who is always right.
If your gut reaction to criticism is defensiveness, you are operating under a two or three or four team system rather than a single team system. Once you realize we are all on the same team, you realize there isn’t any need to defend against your own teammate. If your gut reaction to criticism is to shift the blame, you are missing an opportunity to grow as well as to build trust in others. If your gut reaction to criticism is to get angry or shut down (both of which are escape mechanisms) then you burn bridges and the influence of your leadership is greatly diminished.
We must own what we have been entrusted with. People appreciate that and respect that. It is what makes a leader great. You aren’t perfect. We already know that! So let’s not try to act like we are. Instead, let us embrace opportunities to grow.