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Leading from beside: You are all leaders

I have been a member or leader of various groups where there would be one person who would dominate the group week after week. Myself and other people would fret about this. Sometimes people would leave the group, later mentioning the particular person as difficult to be around. I was once successful by genuinely befriending an individual and then, from this place, able to lovingly confront him, which he received well. In the other examples that come to mind, no one who disliked the person's style who was dominating the group was able to get a footing from which to tell him to please dial down. I've thought a lot about this, and I really only have two solutions that differ from the common belief of "you're the leader so you talk to them."

First, unless you are a baby, you're a leader. Yes, even children can lead. Second, if you care for someone, you'll care enough to confront them. If we see a group as a family, it's easier to do these two items. If you see your group as a business, a military unit, a classroom, or a sports team, you'll have a harder time. In a healthy family, children play a role and people confront each other and openly communicate about problems. In the other models, you pretty much shut up and listen, unless the leader calls on you or directs you. Didn't Jesus say specifically that his people were not to lead like the world does? It seems to me that much of the leading style in the church is exactly like the world.

It is hard to care about someone and take on leadership with people you barely know. This is why it's hard to have a church that gets authentic when it is just a meeting that you go to. You drop in and meet, and an hour or two later it's, "See you next week!" In this context, when a person dominates, it is hard to care and lead by confrontation, because you don't even know the person. I think that when the context is a "drop in" meeting, it becomes more like a 12-step group where good sharing can occur, but the structure that keeps one from dominating also keeps all from interacting.

So, perhaps real church can only spring from real relationships. Authentic church is when we share life together, rather than just share a room or a sofa. If we're sharing life, we'll be on the road to being able to love and listen and speak the truth in love.


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