Leaders Must Pull Close

Relationships are hard work. What kinds of relationships, you ask? Only the ones with humans.

I find within myself and the people I'm privileged to pastor two forces. First is the force which compels us into relationships. Call it love, society, or whatever you like — it's a strong force. And largely, it's a good force. You don't have to be too much of a theologian to find solid, biblical grounds for this desire to be in relationships. God is a unified society — a oneness in relationship. That's what Trinity means.

But then there's the other force. Call it self-protection, shame, or fear. This is also a strong force, but it's not so good. This force is the drives us away from relationships because, often, they're painful. That mask you wear, the hard conversation you avoid, and those lies you tell others — they're all this contrary force at work.

Here's the point: Leaders must pull close. If we don't we're colluding with the relational entropy that signals the beginning of the end of the relationship.

As a leader, you'll find it most difficult to pull relationally close to someone when:

  • They disagree with you.
  • They hurt you.
  • They talk about you.
  • You hurt them, and you know it.
  • You have bad chemistry.
  • You sense it's time for a change.
  • Trust has been broken.

Sounding more familiar? We all want to have deep, abiding relationships with those we lead. But the leader who becomes relationally distant and emotionally aloof won't be leading those same people for long. Pretty soon, the team will leave, the band will break up, or the staff will turn over. Leader, if you want to lead well, pull close.

  • When they disagree with you, talk to them. Don't email them. Talk to them.
  • When they hurt you, buy them coffee and ask them about it.
  • When they talk about you, don't talk about them. Talk to them.
  • When you hurt them, repent. Quickly.
  • When you have bad chemistry, acknowledge it to them.
  • When you sense it's time for change, be honest. Be their ally.
  • When trust has been broken, let them know. Seek to repair it.

Leader, if you'll pull close — if you'll fight the shame-fueled isolation — you'll lead well. How do I know? Well do you remember all those ways we hurt each other? We did all that to God. Thankfully, God pulled close. That's the gospel story.

Let's go live it out among those we lead.