Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Loner

So we have seen how some leaders will step up because they need to be needed and others because they need to be seen. This last group that I want to look at is made up of leaders who will step up because they need to be in control. 

This is someone who likes the idea of deciding what happens and when and exactly how. 

You can recognize this person because their life is usually a very public train wreck. Sometimes, they haven't shared their stuff, but most of the time, they have, and everyone knows it. So when they offer to lead something, your initial reaction is probably, "Really?" It just doesn't seem to fit with what you know of them. 

Yet, it's a perfect fit. It gives them the opportunity to control something in their life when the rest of it is usually spiraling out of control. And for a significant subset of these types of leaders, it gives them a chance to show very publicly how good they are at making decisions and running things. See the draw? Everyone knows their life is messed up, so leading a ministry is a great opportunity to show that they can manage things and so, naturally, their life is not their fault. 

That's where the trouble starts - their life is not their fault, and their failures in leadership are quickly not their fault either. Ironically, this person usually will not do the amount of prep work that others on the team may do, but when they show up unprepared, they just start throwing out a bunch of reasons why their plan will never work - and why that's not their fault. It's the fault of others, who keep trying to do things that are not exactly the way this leader wants things done. Or it's the fault of technology that is failing. Or it's the result of some component that isn't quite ready. When this leadership falls apart, and it almost always does, it is never because of the leader. At least, that's what the leader will tell you. 

This Loner doesn't listen to input, and they aren't willing to solve problems on the fly. When something comes up, the whole enterprise is ruined and beyond salvageable, and instead of leaning on others, this leader becomes defiant and takes an "I'll just do it myself" approach and throws everyone and everything out with the bathwater.

It's important to be extremely careful with this type of leader for this very reason - because she is chewing up and spitting out others who might be willing to lead now or in the future. She's shutting them down because she can't handle things that don't go exactly the way she needs them to go, and she's damaging their willingness to join a program in your church ever again. If she's a small group leader who doesn't listen to the members of her small group, those in attendance may walk away and never try a small group again. If he's a mowing ministry leader who constantly criticizes the way the lawn is cut and re-cuts it himself, no one's going to volunteer to help maintain the church grounds. And those that have? They might not volunteer to do anything again, not even so small as to change a light bulb.

The Loner, in attempting to prove how capable they are, tends to always be telling others how incapable they are and projecting his or her own drama from a broken, traumatic life onto others. She is doing the same thing to persons in your church that she is trying to escape from herself. And it's neither helpful nor successful to try to explain to her that she is the toxic one.

She can't possibly be the toxic one! That's exactly what she stepped up to prove in the first place. 

While I have said for two days that you do not necessarily have to keep the insecure or the showboat from leading, I think you do have to draw a line with the loner. Just by the nature of how many wounded persons he's going to leave in his wake. (And the anger he is likely to display as he does.) You have to work with a loner first to address the broken nature of his life before you let him take the reins of any of your church programs. 

Otherwise, you're going to have a bigger mess on your hands than if you didn't have that ministry at all. 

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