Friday, April 06, 2007

where leaders shouldn't tread

disclaimer: i recognize that the following is strictly my perspective and is very possibly biased, but it is none-the-less my perspective. also, this may be the first and last time that i refer to the warden as "my wife" on this blog. it's just easier.

recently there has been a situation that my wife has been involved in with the women's ministry leaders at our church. i have kept my mouth shut and avoided getting involved in the discussion. however, the final decision has been made by leadership and accepted by my wife. now i will express myself because i don't believe in bottling things up.

this whole thing has kind of pissed me off. the situation is that for several months my wife has been compiling a newsletter for the women in the church. she began doing so approximately a year-and-a-half ago. the reason she started was that she felt moved by God to communicate to fellow women how God views them and the value they hold in His eyes. she has had very positive and heartfelt feedback from those who have read the newsletter who indicated that it's been very encouraging to them.

however, the recent situation has been that she was about to put out the spring/easter edition of the newsletter and, since it is intended for the women in the church, asked those in charge of leading our church women's ministry if they wanted to add anything. well, that's when things exploded.

my wife was informed that the leaders of women's ministry wanted her to wait until may to put out the newsletter because that was when they hoped to have a committee put together to help and have more varied input into women's ministry. once the committee is put together, they will look over the newsletter together and discuss any ideas for things that should be added. once the newsletter is approved by the committee, it can be distributed.

however, since my wife has had only positive input on the newsletter in the past and women have found it so encouraging and uplifting, my wife didn't see a need to wait for a committee to approve this edition. also, since there is easter content in the newsletter publishing it in may would mean that the easter content would no longer be timely and should likely be removed. for these reasons, my wife gave a copy to one of the leaders with the intention to publish the current edition and distribute it on easter weekend. the leaders still said no, because they didn't see how there was any time-sensitive reasons to publish it and...wait, they didn't really provide any reasons except that this was their decision and it was final.

to make a long story not quite as long, let's just say that after appealing to an elder in the church the decision of the women's ministry leaders was upheld and my wife has reluctantly agreed she will not publish the newsletter. some who have heard about the situation have privately voiced the opinion that such a process is a little ridiculous. since there really is no objection whatsoever to the actual content of the newsletter after one of the leader's read it (aside from some announcements about events in the church, which my wife agreed could be removed), there should be no reason that this edition should have to wait.

now, here's my perspective on the leadership aspect (since i haven't already made it painfully clear). since no actual reasons have been given as to why waiting would be more advantageous and better than just publishing the newsletter now, the decision of the leaders is strictly bureaucratic. they are concerned only about process in this situation, wanting to wait until the appropriate committee is formed so they can approve the newsletter. if not, better reasons should have been given but they weren't. and the perspective of the leaders is that if God truly wanted this He would somehow swoop down like Superman and intervene.

leaders need to be better at communicating and finding suitable compromises. to my wife i suggested earlier on that a suitable compromise would be for this edition to be printed now and all future editions could wait for the committee to approve, but it became clear that the leaders of women's ministry would not budge for anything beccause they believe their decision lines up with what God wants. i'm all for conviction but in this case i disagree that that is what would be good for God's people.

when leadership communicates that their decision is final only "because we said so", leadership becomes dictatorship. it fails to inspire confidence. it fails to inspire anything or appear inspired. unfortunately it doesn't seem as though those in leadership are making much of an effort to learn from the mistakes made by past leaders. the problem of church leaders acting as dictators has been a problem for hundreds of years and it appears as though it will continue to be.

all that said, i feel the right approach to this was to accept the decision made by the church elder in this situation. he is a wise and trusted man and has his reasons for making that decision, whatever those may be. it may very well be God's will that my wife should put this newsletter out, but it may also be His will that she show humility in this situation and accept even the bad decisions made by leaders in his Church.

unfortunately it means that my wife feels stifled in a gift that God has given to her to give to others and because of that she feels a little down right now. there are ups and downs to living a life of faith. what would the ups be without the downs?


Anonymous Teacher Dude said...

That is really sad and unfortunatly a reality with leadership groups these days. I agree totally with your position and feel like this situation was handled compeletly wrong. I'm sorry for you and your wife.

4/07/2007 5:38 PM  
Blogger johnny m said...

thank you for your expression. it's greatly consoling.

4/07/2007 5:42 PM  
Blogger pxpaulx said...

sounds like work. whenever something good comes along, everyone has to get their hands on it until it becomes not worth the time in the first place. maybe she should scale it to an email newsletter and create a list of people that actually care about it and not themselves. people can be so selfish (i know i'm not immune).

4/07/2007 11:37 PM  
Blogger johnny m said...

well, this'll teach me to write when i'm pissed off.

thanks for your sympathy paul. and thanks to everyone who managed to read this post/essay.

however, i want to make it clear that my intention behind this post wasn't to make these leaders look like bad people. it was a challenge to their leadership decision and their method of communicating that decision.

it has since become apparent that the interpretation taken by some who have read this post is that i feel the leaders in this situation are nazis. that is partially my fault, since i have referred to their leadership methods here as dictatorship. i would never compare them to nazis. that would be more unreasonable than i can express.

4/08/2007 9:23 PM  
Blogger agapetos said...

Perspective is an intersting, isn't it?! Of course, I don't agree with yours! (no shock there, is it!).

If you've read my last emails to your wife, you'll know that there was things she did that seemed to us like she was staging a coup of sorts. There has been misunderstanding on both sides. The biggest one from your side is that we've made a final decision, we haven't, the newsletter is going to come out, we just said "wait". We've never said "no".

I guess I find it odd that if you wanted to communicate this to us you did it this way, as I'm the only one that might possibly read it, I guess I was the target! It was difficult to read this, the other day, after I felt like the women involved in this had actually moved on to a new stage in this. I realize full well, that it's not like things are all neatly wrapped up and everyone is happy and all, but we're talking and I think communicating well. So reading this made me feel like what I was perceiving as a bit of progress with each other, was actually just a figment of my imagination. Thankfully your wife didn't stop emailing with me. I appreciate her keeping the lines of communication open. As you know, I took this all very seriously, to the point of feeling the rift was big enough that I didn't feel right taking communion yesterday, on Easter Sunday. I knew my sister in Christ had been offended by what I had done. I don't know when the last time was I didn't feel right taking communion. It was a rather sad moment for me.

I guess I still, honestly, think we handled this all as best we could with how things came across. Like I keep saying to you, we're human, and we're trying to figure this all out. I've never said that God told me to do anything, I was merely asking for time to seek God on it.

It was pretty tough to be preceived the way you've preceived me, I still struggle with wanting everyone to like me ... though I was hoping in my 40s I'd get past that! I realize that people spout off in a moment of anger, I'm no exception, nor is my husband ... just like you're upset from your wife's perspective, he was upset from mine, and ready to come to my defense rather vigerously. I asked him not to, as I just felt like it will only make what progress we have made harder to maintain. You can all chat when things have cooled off more!

Anyway, Johnny, peace to you!

4/09/2007 8:57 AM  
Blogger johnny m said...

it's unfortunate that you feel this was my attempt to communicate things to you and your counterpart in women's ministry. however, please notice that at no point in that post did i refer to anyone in the second person (e.g. "you"). you were not the "target" for the post. i specifically wrote it to express my perspective to all who read my blog. i was hoping that in not mentioning yours or the other person's name you would see that if you read it, but you didn't see it. sorry i didn't make it clear enough.

after the reaction you had to my comments on your blog, i was actually hoping you wouldn't read this post and wanted to mention that before i heard you read it but didn't mention it. that was my fault.

and, actually, since you are bringing it up i have to point out that you have made a final decision in regards to my wife's desire to publish her newsletter on easter weekend. the decision to "wait" until the committee is formed is final since easter weekend is now over. her desire was to publish it in time for easter and you said "no, you'll have to wait." that was yours and the other leader's decision and it was FINAL. please recognize and take responsibility for that aspect of it.

i am also ready for peace in this situation, but please realize that i couldn't get to that point until i posted what i did. in the interest of peace, i will say this last thing to respond to your last comment: i still like you (in response to your desire for people to like you). i always have. this incident has not made me like you or your parter in ministry less, it has just made me frustrated with some of your leadership methods. hopefully you can say the same about your thoughts about me. i'm also sorry that my post (which, after re-reading it yesterday, i thought was more fair than you're indicating) has upset jason. i told him my desire was for this not to affect my friendship with him. hopefully that can also be repaired.

and hopefully you read this comment.

4/09/2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger agapetos said...

I appreciate your comments.

I guess I just thought you were venting to the general public, until one of your comments said that you wanted to challenge our way of doing things ... that made me think it was directed at us (me). I guess I misunderstood that comment (?) I hadn't intended to come read your entry, but a couple of my friends did, and had interesting opinions, so I got curious .... not the first time my curiosity has bit my butt!

Okay, I see where you're coming from. I just don't look at wait so much as a finale as you do, but I think I understand what you mean now. Honestly it's confused the heck out of me.

I can't exactly see the fairness, but that's fine. I think we've been fair as well, and obviously you don't see that either!

I'll leave it at that! You and Jason can do your own communicating!

4/09/2007 6:19 PM  

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