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Opposites attract, right?

According to the laws of physics, yes, opposites attract. But when it comes to personalities, that’s not always the case.

I know of a church leader who, before becoming a pastor, was a successful businessman. He is ambitious and somewhat driven. He attracts other leaders who share his ambition and, together, they manage a large church with a budget in the millions, comprised mainly of people of moderate to substantial means. His “corporate persona” naturally attracts people who place a high value on professionalism.

I know another pastor whose personality is quite the opposite. His style is relaxed and easy-going, pretty “laid-back” using current vernacular. He pastors a smaller church, comprised primarily of people of modest means. Though not lazy, he’s a low-energy kind of guy who naturally draws similarly low-energy folks to his church, often those who are looking for a place to worship where they won’t be continually urged to “do.”

Both of these pastors are extremely intelligent and competent. Their behavioral styles, however, are vastly different. Consequently, their churches look nothing alike.

What kind of leader are you?

What kind of people do you attract? Are they like you, or are they your opposite? Wise leaders know that it is necessary to attract people who are different from them as well as those who are similar. This requires a measure of adaptability.

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, Paul speaks of becoming all things to all people. Now he was, of course, speaking  in context of sharing the gospel. But I think his point is relevant to leadership development as well. In order to have  a balanced leadership team, pastors need to adapt their behavior in order to attract other, diverse behavioral styles.

The first pastor mentioned above has a leadership team of high-powered executives. Looking at it through an equipping lens, he doesn’t have to expend a lot of energy on motivating his leaders. However, he does have to manage the conflict that arises from having too many competent leaders and not enough willing servants, not to mention the problems that can arise from leading a church using corporate strategies.

The other pastor doesn’t have to deal with internal power struggles, but he does have to step in regularly to inspire and motivate. He finds it necessary to re-cast vision frequently and often needs to interject his leadership into ministry teams in order to generate enough energy to maintain ministry momentum. To some, this might have the appearance of micro-managing.

To be clear, one of these leadership styles is not better than the other. However, in both cases, the pastors expend time and energy on situations that, if their leadership teams were more behaviorally diverse, could be avoided.

Who’s on your team?

I know this isn’t rocket science but, nonetheless, take a serious look at your leadership team. Is it made up of people who are like you? It may be what comes naturally, but you you will do yourself and your church a favor if you follow Paul’s example and adapt to the behavioral styles of others in order to attract them to your church and to your leadership team.

Unity is not “sameness.” Unity is variety that learns to work together harmoniously, showing the world what it means to be the Body of Christ.

3 thoughts on “Opposites attract, right?

  1. Andee, this is a thought-provoking post. I find this dilemma not only in the ministry world, but in the workplace. Yes, it is easier and our tendency to want to work with people that are like us. However, we need those who are not like us to accomplish whatever goal is set before us. To me, the question is how do I work with this diverse group of people once we’ve committed to working together? In order to help people become willing servants who are engaged in active ministry, I believe the important thing is a compelling vision and commitment to the same goal. If we share the vision and goal and then learn to appreciate each others style (which needs to happen all the way around the group), we can make much more progress on becoming all God created each of us and the body of Christ as a whole.

  2. I agree with your comment about the need for a compelling vision and commitment to the same goal, Rhonda. That can go a long way to fostering an atmosphere of discovery of and appreciation for behavioral styles other than our own. It forms the common ground we need in order to become willing to accept that someone else whose style is the complete opposite of our own has something of value to contribute!

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