Home Pastors Articles for Pastors The Language of Bad Leadership: 3 Phrases to Avoid

The Language of Bad Leadership: 3 Phrases to Avoid

A few years ago I attended a meeting being led by two people who served in a leadership role within our church. There were about 10 of us sitting around a table and I thought our meeting was going to be focused on strategic planning and a chance for us all to kind of “catch up.”

Boy was I wrong.

Responding to the question “how are you doing,” every single volunteer said they were quitting and were no longer interested in being a part of that ministry. Talk about a pastor’s worst nightmare!

As the volunteers shared their frustrations and concerns, 100 percent of the problems were related to the two people leading that ministry. People said things like:

“There is absolutely no communication between you two and us!”

“You don’t plan anything.”

“You talk down to me.”

It wasn’t a pretty moment by any stretch of the imagination.

And there I was … sitting at a table … watching this all unfold … wondering how this moment could be redeemed. But it only got worse. For the next 30 minutes the two leaders made excuses and took zero responsibility for any of the frustrations coming from the volunteers. I’ve never seen anything like it … it was like watching a car crash.

I spent a couple years with those two people and tried hard to help them become better leaders, but the fact of the matter is that they were not interested in becoming better leaders and eventually burned all of their bridges with people and left the church, repeating a cycle that has followed them everywhere they’ve gone.

I learned a lot from watching them interact with people. Unfortunately, most of what I learned was what not to do. And I’ve seen these problems in many other leaders over the years and have been guilty too.

So here are some observations concerning the language of poor leadership. These are the things that I heard and what eventually led to this couple losing all of their volunteers and what probably affects countless numbers of poor leaders all over the world.

“But …”

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Luke Geraty has been lead pastor of Trinity Christian Fellowship for the past six years and is a member of the Society of Vineyard Scholars. Interested in missional theology within the rural context, Luke loves all things espresso, hockey, hip hop, and fly fishing (what a weird combo!). He and his wife have four children. He blogs regularly at ThinkTheology.org.