leadership mistake #1: treat everyone equally.

A few years ago, I was asked by my direct boss (the administrative pastor) if I wanted to go play golf with him and another pastor on staff.  ‘This should be fun’, I thought, ‘hanging out with two cool dudes on the golf course.’  I reported to this guy so why not enjoy the moment with our guards down.  It was a Thursday morning and while we would have typically been in the office, here was a chance to bond with two people I respected and wanted to know better.  It was a great time too.  I’m horrible at golf, by the way.  I plan on losing a dozen balls each round.  In any case, the morning sped by as we shot the breeze (literally), chased balls and compared war stories.  I finished the day back at the office and left thinking this had a been a great day.

The surprise came on Tuesday morning at staff meeting when we were told that time sheets now had to be filled out for the work week.  Not just when we came in and when we left (which wouldn’t make sense on a salary anyways) but literally keeping a journal of everything we did during the week.  These reports had to be filled out and turned in at the end of each week, no exceptions.  Come to find out, the senior pastor was livid when he found out that three of his employees were on the golf course.  Now, I’m not saying we could or couldn’t play golf.  To top it off, I still don’t know the true impetus and intention of being made to fill out those sheets.  What I can say is that we now bore the brunt of the decision my boss made.  In other words, a knee jerk reaction translated into a blanket policy.

You know those policies right?  The crazy far out ones where anyone new to the scene can’t figure out why in the world this particular policy exists.  I’ll give you a hint: it’s when you’re asked to behave a certain way to avoid the mistakes of another.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes.  I’m not saying policies don’t have a place in every organization.  What I am saying is that treating everyone equally is not the same as treating everyone fairly.

There is a difference between fair and equal.  In fact, I’ll go so far to say that equality has nothing do with grace.  Equality is simply treating everyone they exact same way.  When a child points out that something’s not fair, it’s because that child doesn’t have a grasp of what they do and don’t deserve and grace will never be about what you do or do not deserve.  Thank God I’m not treated according to what I deserve.  Equal treatment denotes a sense of privilege.  Fairness, on the other hand, denotes a sense of grace.  You see, had I been treated fairly based on the anecdote from above, I probably wouldn’t have had to fill out those time sheets because technically I was doing what had been asked of me by my superior.

Unfortunately in this context, the need to treat us all equally came more or less from a sense of insecurity.  When I’m able to interact with my team or followers based on who they are individually, it’s because I’m secure about who I am.  I’m secure enough to let that illusion of control go.

This weekend, there were several challenges in our weekend services.  For each challenge, there was a situation.  For each situation, there was a leadership opportunity.  I came into this weekend knowing full well that a leader does not and should not pretend to know all the answers.  A leader should, however, be fully prepared to treat each individual fairly, with love and grace.  The only reason, and I sincerely mean the ‘only’ reason, that I have even a glimpse of what grace means is because it has been extended to me. That glimpse is but a drop of the ocean that is His love.

I’m not interested in blanket policies based on knee jerk reactions.  I know that quality is my M.O. but it will never be at the risk of losing a friend or follower, especially to produce a temporary result.  If you truly knew me you would know how hard it is for me to write these things.  However, I’ve learned (and am learning) that I’m far too in love with the One who is gracious and far too in love with those He has extended grace to, to ever risk equality for fairness.  Thank you God for loving me fairly.

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2 thoughts on “leadership mistake #1: treat everyone equally.

  1. Pingback: beavers, prodigal brothers and hope. « Spit and Mud

  2. Pingback: leadership mistake #2: holding resentment. « Spit and Mud

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