Leaders tend to get bombarded with questions. They just seem to come with the territory. The truth is that leaders most often are weary (and leery) of questions. The reason for this is because leaders see where they are trying to lead and questions have a feeling of slowing the progress down. Let me interject a BIG distinction at this point in the conversation; questions should not necessarily be considered synonymous with criticism. But, are the questions that our followers ask really that bad?
As a pastor, I completely relate to the sense of dread in having to answer the same question over and over when I am trying to lead our church to engage a new mindset, ministry initiative, etc. But what I don’t want to become is the pastor who loathes people’s questions. Any response on the part of the leader when he is asked a question is always a response to the person asking the question, not a response to the question. Leadership is about influence and influence is about relationships. As a leader, my relationships are with people not questions. As a pastor this forces me to reevaluate my response when I am asked a question by one of my church members pertaining to the Why? and What? of our church’s life and ministry.
People ask questions for a variety of reasons:
Collection — They were not present when the information was shared, so they are asking to find out what is going on.
Clarity — They did not understand the information when it was shared, so they are asking to make sure they fully understand.
Cooperation — They want to know exactly what is expected of them or what they can do to help, so they are asking how they can take ownership for what is going on.
Cantankerous – The truth is that some people just are not going to be in support of some things that a leader initiates. I have heard church members say, “I don’t believe anything in the church should have 100% support, so I vote no on everything.” While the attitude is completely unbiblical, it is a reality that pastors may have to deal with in leading a church to fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations. You will not be able to lead and persuade everyone, but this group is the exception not the rule.
Here is my underlying point … Leaders should not be aggravated by the questions that people ask. Rather than viewing the questions as opposition to one’s leadership, we should view them as opportunities to be better leaders. Questions from the people we are blessed to lead are opportunities for discipleship. Questions give us prime time to accomplish several discipleship needs such as …
- Helping people develop a more complete biblical worldview for the the life and ministry of the local church.
- Helping people to develop a greater understanding and personal commitment to the Great Commission vision of the local church.
- Helping people to be better able to encourage others in the church to engage in the Great Commission vision of the local church.
- Helping the leader to become better able to more succinctly communicate the vision for where? what? why? and how? he is leading.
- Helping develop relationships with those we are trying to lead.
Remember, any response on the part of the leader when he is asked a question is always a response to the person asking the question not a response to the question. So, a leader will respond in one of two ways when he is asked a question about the implementation of his vision. He will either ignore them or he will engage them. If you choose to ignore them you will likely do so to your and your vision’s detriment. If you choose to engage them, you will increase your potential influence for the Kingdom.
“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” – 1Peter 5:1-3