Leading Up: Too Bashful, Too Bold

Effectively communicating ministry needs without overselling or underselling the need.

Josh Denhart
3 minute read

Do you remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf?  He cried 'WOLF!' when there was no wolf. The town sprang into action. However, there was no danger. The little boy did it again. The townspeople sprang into action when they heard 'WOLF!'  Yet, once again, they were not needed. The little boy unknowingly conditioned the townspeople to not take him seriously.

Part of ministry is communicating about problems, needs or challenges in your area. A day is coming when you are going to need help in a big way. You will need swift action of your senior leaders.

But before that day comes, take some time to consider if you have been too bold – or too bashful – in leading up to your superiors.

Leading Boldly - Without the Drama

Do you use an exaggerated form of communication? Are you prone to hyperbole? Do you have a flare for the dramatic?

Maybe you continue to shoot yourself in your over-aggressive foot. You succumb to the 'ready, FIRE, aim' and don’t prepare enough, if any.

You may be in a situation where you feel the need to oversell your case by a mile in order to gain an inch. I know I’ve been there before. If so, you may be prone to 'crying wolf.'

If this sounds familiar to you, what steps can you take to mellow out and gain a cool head? How could you slow down and make sure you have all the right information before making your requests known?

Proverbs 13:3 instructs us: Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Do not cry wolf and ruin your reputation. Trust me when I say, exaggeration will kill your chances of future success.

Don't Be Bashful - Speak Up

Let’s change the story altogether and imagine you are a shipmate on a boat. You are all alone in the bottom of the boat with one simple job: shovel coal into the fire box. One day there is a small leak in the bottom of the ship. The boat is taking on water. Yet you just keep your head down and focus on your job. As time goes on, the leak only gets larger. You wonder, 'Shouldn’t someone do something about this? I mean this could get dangerous.'

This story exemplifies a different but equally problematic position: underselling your needs.

While I have personally been the overseller of a problem, I have met more leaders who do not speak up about a legitimate issue that should be addressed.

Many leaders silently suffer under unreasonable conditions and unrealistic expectations. This may be your story. You may feel insecure. You may feel inadequate. It is possible that you do not want to be viewed as a complainer or the squeaky wheel.

But you do not need to be afraid of advocating for yourself or your area of ministry.

In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul encourages Timothy by saying 'for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.'

This is part of your job. Senior leaders are actually trusting that you will let them know when there is a leak in the area of the ship you oversee. Your leaders do not want the ship to take on water. I would rather be known as a proactive and conscientious leader than to be found sitting on a problem that has only grown on my watch.

Landing in the Middle

You don’t have to stay stuck in a rut of being too bold or too bashful. Instead of complaining loudly or speaking about your own opinion and perspective, use research, thorough preparation and hard work to properly advocate for your ministry area. Be winsome and likeable, not negative and disagreeable. One of the best things you can do is come with solutions that could potentially benefit the organization as a whole.

The day is coming when you are going to need help in a big way. When that day comes, be found as a thoughtful, proactive, cooperative team member and not just the boy who cried 'WOLF!'

After serving as a pastor for over 10 years, Josh Denhart transitioned his vocational energies toward Lead Ministry and KidMin Science. Josh is passionate about helping leaders (1) get organized, (2) stop the revolving door of volunteers and thus (3) prevent ministry burnout through Lead Ministry. Josh is an international speaker, author, course and curriculum creator. He is the founder of leadministry.com.

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