What 2017 Taught Me About Leadership and Critics

I used to have a thick skin, and if you didn’t like me, that was your problem. Over the course of 2017 as my heart grew tender, that armor plating turned to kevlar. Hit it enough and you’ll get through. And it did.

I learned I cannot and won’t make everyone happy. What I can do is always do what’s right, right will always win. Jaime told me because I am a leader I will always have a target on me. The critics will shoot at me and never stop, just be careful not to hand them the ammunition.

I need Captain America’s shield.

Proactively, continually let them know that they can come to you if they have a problem. However, that door swings both ways. Face to face, without any gossip or complaining to others. I’ve watched it turn environments and cultures toxic.

Face to face, or keep quiet. When they come to you, apologize if they think you’re wrong, and ask how to fix it. I seriously hate being wrong and will check to see if I made a mistake. That’s my personality.

At times decisions will be made that people won’t like, but it is the right choice. Don’t falter, stand up under the adversity of their onslaught.

As a leader, the goals are to balance moving forward with caring for the people and making them better. It won’t always be understood and sometimes outright rejected. I do take some solace in knowing that Jesus went around healing, loving people, and doing good, yet still had his critics.

Your shield is to make sure to do everything right because everyone is watching. It’s the power of reputation at play. When you mess up, don’t do it again, ask forgiveness, and do the next right thing.

Powered By The Devil; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

In one of the towns we were invited to a house and a crowd soon gathered. They wanted to see Jesus so badly that we couldn’t even eat. It was crazy as Jesus taught.

In the clamor, I thought I overheard someone say something about getting Jesus’ family.

“Let us through!”

I looked, thinking his family couldn’t be here already. It wasn’t them, it was some men leading another in.
“He’s blind, mute, and stricken by a demon.”
Jesus cast out the demon and healed him. We watched as his eyes cleared up and he began to speak. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

The teachers and Pharisees in the crowd shouted, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

They looked shocked. One muttered, “He has an impure spirit.”

Jesus continued, “And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Jesus wasn’t done, continuing, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

Whoa.

There was a disturbance at the door, but I was riveted at what the Pharisees had to say next.

Matthew 12:22-37
Mark 3:20-30

When Critics Attack

People really don’t like it when you tell them no. It’s been something I’ve had to do the last few weeks with varying degrees of success. The critics came out, and I found myself experiencing Scripture again, physically and emotionally.

Here are my methods as a leader in those situations, learned from the procedure, books, the Bible, and one of my mentors. I warn first–it’s a teaching moment, over issues that aren’t trivial. They learn, correct their course, and it’s over. That’s how it usually happens.

If not, then it’s the next step, and one I don’t like. But, Galatians 6:7 does say, “A man reaps what he sows.” It’s the natural consequences of your actions.

Attacked

After this began, I went into the Psalms because I was being attacked. I particularly loved the 35th Psalm. I had a small army coming against me. So I went to the one who can do something about it.

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor;
arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
“I am your salvation.”
May those who seek my life
be disgraced and put to shame;
may those who plot my ruin
be turned back in dismay.
May they be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away;
may their path be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
Psalm 35:1-6

Some I had walked beside them in their pain, working with them.

Ruthless witnesses come forward;
they question me on things I know nothing about.
They repay me evil for good
and leave me like one bereaved.

Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
I went about mourning
as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
Psalm 35:11-14

This was how I was repaid.

But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
They slandered me without ceasing.
Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;
they gnashed their teeth at me.

Psalm 35:15-16

What To Do?

I told a friend, a brother in Christ, who chastised me for not telling him sooner. The reason? So he could pray for me. He echoed what my wife said earlier, along with King David; just stand there and let God fight for me. I was, and it’s still annoying.

While we were speaking, I later learned that I was being falsely accused.

They do not speak peaceably,
but devise false accusations
against those who live quietly in the land.
They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha!
With our own eyes we have seen it.”
Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
Do not be far from me, Lord.
Awake, and rise to my defense!
Contend for me, my God and Lord.
Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
do not let them gloat over me.
Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!”
or say, “We have swallowed him up.”
May all who gloat over my distress
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
be clothed with shame and disgrace.
May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
Psalm 35: 20-27

During this, I did make mistakes in how I handled it and had to face repercussions myself. I was disciplined myself. Proverbs 19:25 in action, “Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.”

Get Some Advice

I also sought advice from my mentor again. She reminded me that because I’m in a leadership position, I have a target on me. People are going to shoot at me, and it won’t ever stop. The key is to make sure I always do right, right always wins.

As far as discipline, don’t make it about them personally, but my concern for them. This rolls into the teaching moments by explaining the “why”, and the how will follow.

As far as the attacks, start pouring this thought into people: “If I have a problem with you, I go to you; if they have a problem with me, ask them to come to me.” If they think I was wrong still after discussing it, apologize, and ask how to fix it.

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.
Matthew 18:15; 5:25

The lesson?

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord.
Romans 12:17-19