Much ink has been spilt examining what happens when pastors fail to lead, lead poorly, or behave wickedly as leaders. So much has been made of the failure of pastors that I fear an assumption of pastoral guilt has been established to explain every problem in a church. What is easily forgotten is just how influential followers are within the church...
The church seems to be wired to lay most if not all of its dysfunctions at the feet of the pastor. It makes sense. "The buck stops here" Harry Trueman famously claimed. Because of this, many pastors seem predisposed to believe that every failing in the church is somehow their fault. If the staff stages a "palace coup" then, it is usually assumed, there must be something wrong with pastor. Perhaps. But what if this is not the case? What if a church is truly experiencing a mutiny on staff?
The Balda's, describing the case of a leader named "Warren," offer insight that is frighteningly close to my own experience in the past:
The hornet's nest situation Warren faced resulted from pre-existing cliques, the removal of a fomenting former executive who then remained within the organization, ambivalent leadership further up the food chain, and continuing irresolution. The entrenched toxic clique perceived that lack of directive leadership higher in the hierarchy permitted their ongoing behaviors (p. 59).The first time I read that paragraph a chill went up my spine. It reads like a firsthand account of the situation in which I once found myself. If you are serving as an elder in a church where the pastor is embattled then do not rush to the conclusion that the problem must be his. Perhaps it is! But it may not be. You may be witnessing a palace coup. You may have a battered pastor in your midst.
I include in the post a series of 7 questions that elder sessions may want to examine. Read the entire post HERE.