It’s not uncommon I receive a message from a staff member of another church struggling with the current leadership. (And, I’m not naive enough to believe other senior leaders have not received similar emails from our staff at times.) The question is usually how they can continue to be where they don’t support the vision and direction of the pastor. They want my advice on how to respond during this season of ministry.
This situation is obviously not unique to churches, but also happens frequently in other organizations. I don’t believe all hope is lost during times like this. An individual can continue to grow even with a leader he or she cannot respect—sometimes even more.
Here are seven actions I suggest when you don’t respect the leader:
Talk to God
That’s seems to be an obvious answer from a pastor, but sometimes it’s the thing we do the least. We complain faster it seems. Or, perhaps that’s just what I do.
Ask God to reveal to you His purposes for your life during this season. It could be He’s preparing you for something, stirring the nest so-to-speak, or you are in a time of testing. Don’t assume God is absent during this time. I assure you He’s not asleep at the wheel and has a plan. The closer you are to Him during this time the sooner you’ll understand His plan and the next steps will be revealed.
Most of us need a paycheck. Be grateful while you have one. Unless you know for certain you are to quit, it is destroying you or your family, or you sense something immoral is happening, there’s nothing wrong with working until you find something else. (Provided you do the remainder on this list, as well.)
Do your best
While you are there, be above reproach in your work ethic. Make it your aim to prepare for your successor and to leave your area of responsibility better than you found it when you arrived. This keeps you as a person of integrity.
Respect the leader
I know. That’s the tough one. It is actually why I am writing this post, but as long as you’re there you must respect authority. We have this as our biblical command. You may not respect the leader as a person, but you can respect them as an authority figure and their position.
Again, this is assuming there is nothing immoral taking place. You don’t have to respect those things, nor do you have to turn your head either. There may be other things you need to do or people who need to know. I’m writing in a professional and organizational sense—more about people who you don’t respect stylistically or personally, not illegal or immoral activities.
Watch what you say to others, what you post online and how you handle your disagreements. Don’t become the sarcastic, negative voice in the room.
Learn all you can
The fact is we learn more during the stressful and difficult times, so be a sponge. You may gain all the wisdom of what not to do when you are in control, but you will learn something if you try.
Be thankful for the connections and experience
You will be gaining connections in the church (work) world—or at least you have or should look for the opportunity. It’s easier to network when you’re in the field than it is once you are no longer working. Be thankful for the opportunity.
Be a cheerleader for life.
You may not enjoy your work setting, but you can still be a positive life influence for those around you. Use your smile and your pleasant disposition as an encourager for others. You’ll feel better about yourself after you eventually leave, and you may be just what someone else needs who is feeling as you do. Never burn a bridge with your attitude. That’s a hard stigma to overcome later—and, it’s not who we’ve been called to be as followers of Christ.
Be open to what God will do next in your life. It may not be what you are expecting. Chances are good it will stretch you and require a leap of faith. Prepare your heart, family and attitude for an opportunity when it arrives.
Keep this in mind. I firmly believe we are called to a person—Jesus—more than any location. Even any other leader. At the end of the day, your biggest concern is to be faithful to your call to Jesus.
Have you ever been in this position? What happened?
What advice would you give?
This article originally appeared here.