In an issue of Bits & Pieces, there is a quote that makes me laugh: “The trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you.” When I see that quote, I immediately picture the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, where Captain Jack Sparrow runs from cannibals.
Not going to lie, sometimes leading feels a lot like that. Maybe it’s in the form of questioning every decision. Perhaps it’s the weight of slanderers and backbiters that want you to fail or go away. Even the best leaders have to deal with people that, for whatever reason, refuse to be led.
Speaking as a pastor, the people I lead (apart from one in our case) are not on the payroll. I can’t force a soul to follow; there’s no option for write-ups or firings. And while that might make it easier, it forces you to learn how to lead and move forward towards the vision, even if there are a few heel-biters along for the ride. Therefore, here are a few things I’m learning about leading the haters.
1. Consider the source.
Haters may lash out at any moment, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. While I’m a firm believer in looking for growth areas in every criticism, you have to consider the source. Haters aren’t in your corner, they’re not on the same team, and they only want you to fail or leave. Therefore, the likelihood the criticism has any tiny shred of constructiveness is almost zero.
2. Shake it off.
Depending on the day, shaking it off is easy or hard. As my dear brother here at One Disciple said to me once, “Whales aren’t bothered by minnows.” If you’ve considered the source, weighed the criticism’s constructiveness and found it wanting, shake that mess like a dog that just got out of the pool.
3. Onward and upward.
Jesus had His share of haters. Last year, I finished a series through Mark’s gospel, a series I began in 2018. In Mark 2:16, we see Jesus hated for hanging with sinners. In Mark 7:5, we see Jesus hated for not following tradition. Shoot, in Mark 8:11; 11:18; 12:12; 12:13; 14:1: 15:3, and 11, we see the haters plot His destruction. Shoot, in Mark 15:3, His haters “accused Him of many things.” They simply started throwing whatever they could at Him and hoping it’d stick.
And yet, all of this was according to the Father’s plan to bring about the means of reconciliation between God and man. Undeterred, Jesus moved onward and upward to Calvary, where they crucified Him. He’d be placed in a tomb, but rise again three days later. Soon thereafter, He’d commission His disciples (and us) to make disciples of all nations.
Now, I’m not Jesus. You’re not Jesus. But there’s something we can learn from this. Despite the hate, Jesus moved onward and upward into His calling as the Messiah, the Redeemer of man. He didn’t let these folks get Him off track––He pressed forward.
So, if you have someone (or some people) that hates you, look to our example in Christ. Consider the source, but don’t hate them––love them despite their hate. Nevertheless, don’t dwell on their hatred; shake it off. You have bigger fish to fry––or rather, you have a bigger goal and vision in view. Move onward and upward as Jesus did, and you’ll find yourself leading like Jesus.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and we don’t often hear from the people in our corner and follow our lead. But if we dwell on the haters, we’ll get stuck. Don’t get stuck; keep moving forward into the calling you’ve been given. To wind this down, grab your Bible and take some time to look up, read, and take the verses to heart: