The Bully Pulpit

I had lunch yesterday with the senior pastor of the largest church in our community.  After lunch and a great conversation, he walked me to the door of their sprawling new facility, looked me in the eye, and as he has done in the past said to me “If you ever see me changing, or compromising or crossing a line, would you please come to my office, or have me come to yours, and call me out on it?”

This pastor is 35 years old, with the wisdom of someone who has been in the pulpit for 35 years.

Self-awareness is a tricky thing.  It’s probably easier to deceive yourself than it is to deceive other people. Especially those who work with you every day.

Being aware that you are flawed, and open to the possibility that you may not be fully cognizant of all of your flaws, is the first step.  I sometimes ask people “what are my blind spots?”  Having an environment where they can answer honestly, and not fear being condemned or even fired, is vital to your wellbeing, and to the wellbeing of your organization.

Self-awareness doesn’t mean you are perfect and you don’t make mistakes. It just helps you learn from them and make corrections.

I’m colorblind.

When I was in the first grade, my parents suspected something was going on and gave me a colorblind test.  If you’ve never seen a colorblind test, it is a circle with a series of dots of various colors.  Some of the colors spell out a word or a number.   People with normal color vision can see the image.  People who are color deficient cannot.

I remember being so frustrated that everybody could see the number 12 in the circle of dots, except me.  I could look at that circle all day, and I would never see the number.  But it was there.

Odds are you have some of your own blindspots.

They could be affecting your marriage, your friendships, and your ministry.

If you’ve read this far and concluded this article is not useful for you, the odds are huge that this article is especially for you.

If you are always right, resist accountability, don’t have a mentor or confidant, are experiencing high turnover and gossip and tension in your hallways, you respond to criticism with anger and hostility, you blame others for every mistake, and you are increasing isolated and alone, then there’s a good chance you have a self-awareness problem.

God can, and does, still bless and use ministries led by leaders with the traits I listed above.  But at what cost?  And is He truly honored?

I could rattle off the names of a dozen high-profile ministry leaders who have recently seen everything come crashing down because they lacked self-awareness.  They believed their own press.  Trust me, you are not as good as your Mom thinks you are, and you probably aren’t as bad as your worst detractors say. You’re likely somewhere in the middle, because both of them speak some truth, if you will listen.

Sometimes people surrounding prominent ministry leaders are too caught up in believing they have to protect the ministry that they ignore, or even cover up, the flaws and sins of the leader.  Sorry, but that is wrong-headed. It never ends well and it isn’t fair to the people or the organization.

God doesn’t need us to cover up our sins and flaws.  He tells us to confess them, and He promises redemption if we acknowledge them and repent.  For those who continue to ignore wise counsel, accountability, and truth, the news isn’t so good:  Ephesians 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

I told my pastor friend that I would help hold him accountable, and I asked him to do the same for me.  And I told him that because he was willing to ask me for this accountability that the odds of him failing morally or ethically were greatly reduced.

It’s the people who don’t want to hear the truth that we have to be concerned with.

I write this in a spirit of honest reflection and a prayer that you will join me in searching your own heart. Ask God to reveal your blindspots to you.  Then ask your spouse, your management team, and anyone else who you are close to if you have any blindspots.

Ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?”

Then be honest and fix it.

Psalm 139:23-24 –  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Bill Sammons

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