How Christian Leaders in Business & Ministry Unintentionally Flip People Off!

Have you ever had someone flip you off? You know—give you the bird? Never a pleasant experience, is it? And, I’m sure it’s something you don’t want to be guilty of as a business, church, ministry, or non-profit leader.

Photo Courtesy of Brian Fitzharris via Flickr


For those of you who subscribe to Tipping Points from another country and may not be familiar with the unfortunate experience of being “flipped off”, consider it the equivalent of having someone extend their left hand to you in a greeting, or a member of the opposite sex making direct eye contact with you, or showing you the bottom of their shoe.

Such actions are offensive, far from a positive relational, motivational experience.

The first time I can recall the concept of “giving someone the bird” was when I was about seven years old. I was laying on the floor beneath the sofa in our living room. I was bored to tears, watching a show I absolutely hated with my parents, Hee Haw!

In my boredom, I stuck my middle finger up in the air and started waving it around like a proud citizen would wave the colors of their flag.

My boredom was quickly forgotten, however, and replaced by shock and awe. Being a reasonably intelligent child who didn’t like pain, a smack on the head quickly alerted me to the possibility that I had done something wrong. broken.

Of course at seven, it hurt physically. But more than that, it hurt emotionally because I had no former concept of what it meant to “flip someone off.”

Needless to say, I never did that again!

Leaders – even well-intentioned Christ-followers – can create the same unfortunate experience with their associates and volunteers by NOT BEING CLEAR about things like their mission, values, or what is expected of each team member through carefully crafted job/ministry descriptions and expectations.

As a result, associates and volunteers can sometimes feel like they’e a part of a unique phenomenon that Ken Blanchard has referred to as “seagull management.”

Seagull management is when a leader swoops in after an infraction, squawks up a storm, craps all over, and then flies off, leaving the person or team to “clean things up!”

Here’s a truth from God’s Word; though not easy to contemplate, it provides sage advice we’d be remiss to overlook:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~ Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

Before we ever engage in a conversation where we feel an employee, team-member, or volunteer has dropped the ball in fulfilling an expectation, or has performed at a capacity less than desired, it is incumbent for us to examine our own hearts before the Lord.

This also follows one of Jesus’ huge value statements mentioned in His Sermon on the Mount:

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or, how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ~ Matthew 7:3-5 ESV

Here’s are some self-evaluation questions that might help:

  1. Have I been clear in communicating expectations, envisioned outcomes, goals, and deadlines?
  2. Have I provided all the training and resources needed for success?
  3. Are adequate systems in place to achieve the goals I am expecting?
  4. Is communicating truth (in love) my sincere & primary motivation (Eph. 4:15; 1 Timothy 1:5)?
  5. Is my heart void of all “selfish ambition” (Phil. 2:3-4; James 3:13-16)?

Though there are times when performance certainly is an issue, the above questions and scriptural principles could save us from making those we love and lead feel like they’ve just been flipped off!

Continue the Conversation:  

  • Describe a time when you have experienced the sting of discipline from not meeting an unknown expectation? What did you learn from that experience?

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