Leading and Loving Difficult Team Members

Episode 650: Church leaders, at some point, will have a difficult time with a team member, which can lead to frustration, stress, anxiety or worry. Host Ed Stetzer discusses the challenges of leading difficult team members with Adam Muhtaseb of Redemption City Church in Baltimore and Kathy Litton, who leads NAMB’s planter spouse development team.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • What church planters need to remember as they approach conversations with difficult teammates
  • The value of taking time to identify the strengths and weaknesses of difficult team members
  • The role different temperaments play in understanding the challenge
  • What to do when you put someone in a leadership position and things aren’t working well

Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

Church planters are not always the easiest folks to work with. By nature, we can be visionary, passionate and determined, which can create a relational strain on the core team. @EdStetzer

The good news is we see this happen in Scripture – planting teams not coming together perfectly. That helps us remember we’re just a bunch of sinners working things out together.  – Kathy Litton

Before Jesus sent out the Twelve, he told them to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Juxtaposing those two concepts strikes us as leaders that we need to walk in grace and truth when we’re leading difficult people.  – Kathy Litton

We are the Church of the Living God, and we want a team to be doing the right things. They don’t need all grace and no truth. A leader who’s giving more grace than truth doesn’t deal with issues along the way. – Kathy Litton

We all come at it from a different personality type. We must make sure we’re leading well, in ways that people can receive it. @EdStetzer

We have to consistently be consistent in speaking the truth in love. We also should always be looking for a redemptive outcome. – Kathy Litton

I tend to have bold faith that’s like “Let’s let’s tackle this issue on our team right away.” But I’ve found that’s not always the best approach and sometimes you need to give people time. @Adam_Muhtaseb

Planters overestimate what they can accomplish in two years and underestimate what can be accomplished in 10. @Adam_Muhtaseb

If you will walk alongside people, invest in people, even when you know they have downsides, just like you have downsides, the end result is that they see you vested in them. @EdStetzer

It’s a good thing people don’t all think like me, don’t act like me. And we can actually accept one another. @EdStetzer

It’s not a three-month conversation to help a leader who’s got some rough edges. It takes time, which is both a gift and a necessity in church planting. @EdStetzer

We don’t need clones of ourselves on on our teams. It takes some time to make those not-natural pieces fit together in a puzzle – but it’s worth it. – Kathy Litton

A younger person can reverse-mentor an older person. We just need to be willing to work through and not be thin-skinned about things. – Kathy Litton

I’m a challenge to lead. Like the gospel says, I’m such a challenge that the perfect Son of God had to live a perfect life and die a torturous death in my place to make me unchallenging. So I need to approach this with humility. @Adam_Muhtaseb

The thing I found most challenging, especially the first four years of church planning, was uncommunicated expectations from members on my team. @Adam_Muhtaseb

It can be such a challenge to lead folks who you sense are disappointed with you because you’re not able to be everything they want you to be. @Adam_Muhtaseb

Part of the progression of a church plant is that people – maybe new believers – start taking on some leadership roles and you’re kind of testing them in this place and space. If it grows, great. It connects them to the church so beautifully when they grow they grow into the role. @EdStetzer

Some difficult conversations don’t work and it is not uncommon that person might end up in a different church. That’s not the end of the world, but but you want to help them make that transition. @EdStetzer

Usually people get that It’s not working, and I’ll phrase it as a positive: “What’s next?” rather than “The last thing didn’t work.” I say, “Listen, is there something you think might better align with your gifts or you might have interest in?” @EdStetzer

The hardest part is when they think it’s going great – and it’s not. @EdStetzer

There’s a movie called “We Bought a Zoo.” There’s a line in there about having 20 seconds of insane courage. If you can just muster up 20 seconds of insane courage to say, “You know, it’s just not working,” then the conversation becomes much less awkward. @EdStetzer

I need to give people space. I can draw quick conclusions that aren’t always accurate, and I need to refrain from doing that. I can look back on a couple of people who turned out to be wonderful additions to a team and I had just gotten off on the wrong foot. – Kathy Litton

This is a very tumultuous time relationally for people, and everyone’s on edge, unsure, maybe struggling. Take the time to acknowledge that people are in a relationally more difficult space than they were just two or three years ago. We might need a little more grace than truth. @EdStetzer

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Published March 17, 2022

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