When you are in a position of leadership, you learn one thing quickly. You become a target. People don't like your decisions; they take offense because you didn't say something quite right, or they just snipe at you. It is sad, but it is human nature.
It is not that leaders should be considered above making mistakes. However, the damage happens when a leader makes a decision, and those under her authority do not go to her to discuss it. Instead, they go to others in the ministry, sniping and complaining. This infection contaminates anyone who is exposed to it. The first questions that should be asked before anyone comments are, "What is in my heart? What is my motive?" I think if that question were asked, 90 percent of our problems would be solved before we face them.
Before you begin to criticize someone in leadership, or listen to another do it, ask yourself these questions:
Have I lifted up the situation in prayer?
Do I know all of the facts?
Are there things that the leader may know that I don't?
Are my words (or listening to another's words) becoming part of the problem or part of the solution?
Is my criticism constructive or destructive?
Is there something I can do to help the situation?
Am I taking something personally that I shouldn't?
Am I respecting and submitting to authority?
Will anything I do or say harm the ministry?
After leading a ministry for 12 years that started with no staff and now has 20, I have seen the tremendous damage words can inflict on people and on the ministry. I thought that I would be doing battle with the enemy 'out there,' like Planned Parenthood. However, sometimes the enemy is within. The pain caused by unkind words and accusations is much worse than anything those on the outside could inflict. It is sinful, it is damaging to the ministry, and it is Satan's tool to destroy us from within. (Having been on the receiving end, I have deeply repented of all the times I have said unkind things about those in leadership.) I know I am not alone. I have talked to countless directors or former directors who have been deeply hurt by others' words. We get over it, we grow from it, and God uses it in many ways to mold and shape us. Nevertheless, it still hurts. Each of us needs to remember this as we face the day-to-day pressures and problems inside a PCC.
Dinah Monahan is Founder and Board President of Living Hope Women's Centers/Hope House Maternity Home in Show Low, Arizona.