Some pastors struggle with a serious obstacle to effective leadership: micromanagement.
Often, this involves supervising minute details of subordinate’s responsibilities. Other times, it may play out as what I call “clipboard management”: personally ensuring that all rosters, sign-up sheets, luncheon menus, committee agendas and every other administrative detail has been completed correctly.
I’ve struggled with this myself. My counseling center was not able to grow rapidly until I broke the habit of taking every little problem into my own hands. I’m learning to step away and let others handle the details!
If you know that you micromanage, you probably already recognize it as a problem, right?
You need to shift your gaze from the minutia to the strategy, from the operational details the strategic larger vision.
Fail to do so, and you run the risk of stunting the development (and morale) of volunteers and paid staff, and yes, even the numerical growth of the church.
After all, your church will not grow beyond the horizon of your gaze.
Plenty of articles offer warnings on the dangers of micromanaging and prescriptions for what to do instead.
- Carey Nieuhof’s 11 Ways Leaders (Accidentally) Destroy the Churches They Lead (see Item #4)
- Tony Morgan’s 12 Clues That You Are a Micromanager
- The Gospel Coalition’s Superman Pastors Are Bound to Fail
It’s easier said than done, though, to abandon micromanaging habits and move on to higher levels of leadership!
Of course, I don’t know you personally and we’re all unique individuals, but if you find yourself operating as a micromanager, one of the three following factors may be at play.
Your foe may be perfectionism. You may fear that if you don’t do it, it won’t be done correctly or well. Fact is, sometimes that will prove to be the case. But if someone makes a spelling mistake in the church bulletin, so what? Consider what really drives your fear of a mistake. Then overcome that fear!
Your fear may be of losing control. These days, when problems arise at my counseling center, I am much more likely to walk away from my administrative personnel and let them handle it. Maybe you need to work on something similar.
Your mindset may be tuned to a lower level. Maybe you’re simply not trained in the skills of organizational leadership. Perhaps your background didn’t prepare you to cast a vision, lead people and empower them to achieve it. However, those skills can be learned.
God called you to greater things than dressing down an administrative assistant because she made some small error. He called you to higher tasks than making sure someone brings salad to the picnic.
Certainly, we all have to attend to some administrative details we would rather leave to others. However, we must not allow ourselves to focus too much on such matters. Instead, let's lift up our gaze to the horizon and beyond, then take our people there!