How to Straighten Out Crooked Leaders

Sabbath School leaders who try their best to meet the needs of their various audiences without enabling them to be a part of the one-anothering process may find themselves getting bent out of shape figuratively and literally.

The leaders march off to workshops, standing straight and tall, and return taller and straighter, girded by the enthusiasm of what their Sabbath School members could be and do by embracing what the leaders have learned. They are perceived to think themselves to be the all-knowing leader by members who are—or become—resisters of change.

Valiant and still enthusiastic, these leaders begin to implement the very good new ideas while living the mandate “I must be all things to all people.” However, without preparing the home team to bear its share of the burden of change, the weight of implementing the changes causes the leader’s form to deteriorate as he/she twists and turns to accommodate this audience, that temperament, the various learning styles of members, etc.

In an attempt to straighten out—to remove the unbearable stress—these leaders abandon the role of “lone changemaker” and return to the status quo.

The members who don’t quite realize what they have lost still feel a bit off balance. However, the leaders who know what might have been can’t return to what they were. The sense of loss is great.

Is there a remedy, a chiropractic-type manipulation that smoothes out the curves and restores the noble form? Yes. Education and affirmation.

The leader must encourage and empower willing members, especially gatekeepers, to become part of the leadership support team. The process?

  • Pray about them and with them.
  • Invite them to attend leadership workshops and explain to them exactly why you want them to go.
  • Arrange for them to have financial subsidy, if needed.
  • Carpool.
  • Sit with them at the meetings.
  • Walk with them along the way.
  • Use the give-and-take approach that builds a team—disciple them.

Encourage these team members to access the same resource materials you are using. Then you won’t have to try to convince them of the information you’ve gained; they’ll already be informed. You can get right to using the ideas, processes, and materials—together.

The result? Enough of the support group—not all—will join the chorus: “Come! Let us tell you what the new ideas, the new learning process, or the new materials have done for us!”

Those who buy in share with other members, who share, etc. So the load is more evenly distributed. Every team member flexes to accommodate others. The leader has a team. The team works to fulfill all four goals of Sabbath School.

Temperaments, learning styles, and learning modes will be the same, but the education and affirmation of members as well as leaders will produce more balance. The leaders’ form is restored.

Faith Crumbly
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists