Let me add that the pressure and culture found in unhealthy organizations also have some impact on those who benefit from them. While moral failings, scandals, and burnout are not unique to unhealthy organizations, they do seem to occur at a higher rate in those that are unhealthy. It should be no surprise when Christians fail morally when they have spent years ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of brothers and sisters in Christ in how to conduct themselves in the likeness of Christ.
The organization has to be willing to listen to its constructive critics.
If no one can say to the leader, “there are issues,” well, then, there are issues—big issues. Healthy organizations do not listen to every cynic (and there are many), but they do listen to discerning critics. For example, I have tried to surround myself with people who speak into my life and remind me that I am not a big deal and that I still have many areas in which to grow. These cannot all be people I have hired––though I will tell you, those I have hired seem to hold nothing back.
The organization has to be willing to change.
If the organization has been unhealthy, it’s likely that everyone knows it (except those who profit by its lack of health). Leaders must be willing to ask hard questions. Unfortunately, hard questions usually come with even harder answers. Willingness to change is sometimes the hardest part, but it’s also the most important and most rewarding. It is not enough to recognize the need for change––the organization must be willing to do the hard work of change.
I sincerely hope that some organizations and churches will change for the better––both for their benefit and that of the kingdom. Perhaps in some small way this series will help. But, the reality is that most will not, and that’s why my last post encouraged you to get out if you find yourself in this situation.
Yet, there is hope. Like the characters in The Matrix, people increasingly come to realize they are not living in the real world and can unplug. When I did––realizing that the petty controversies and constant arguing were not the real world––I found a great deal of freedom in engaging real-world ministry without being pulled into organizational dysfunction. You can as well.