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Leaders choosing competence over loyalty

“Last of all, he sent his son to them. They will respect my son.” -Jesus, telling a parable about loyalty, competence and authority One of the greatest enemies of excellence is a poor understanding of the concept of loyalty. This has been o…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

“Last of all, he sent his son to them. They will respect my son.”
-Jesus, telling a parable about loyalty, competence and authority

One of the greatest enemies of excellence is a poor
understanding of the concept of loyalty.
This has been one of the hardest leadership lessons I’ve ever learned, probably
because I’m such a loyal guy. But AIM is
in the process of going to the next level as we put it into practice.

This is true because most of the people who got you to one
level will not take you to the next level.

They just don’t have the “equipment” (the competencies) to do it.

I’ve got a friend who was with me since AIM
started. He was fiercely loyal and
boldly declared he’d take a bullet for me.

But he wouldn’t submit to the people I put in authority over him. It reminded me of the parable of the
landowner whose tenants killed his servants and son (Matt 21).

My friend’s loyalty was to me, but not to any
of my proxies. I tried three different
people out as his bosses and finally we had to part ways when he couldn’t work
with any of them.

Setting my friend free was a hard decision, but it was the
best move for him and for the organization.

He’s thriving and the organization has learned that no one is above the
law. Good leaders will choose competence
and accountability over loyalty.

And the
best leaders won’t compromise relationship in the process.

They speak the truth in love: “This is what I
expect you to do. If you can’t do it,
then we’ll have to find something you are
called to do.”

In my experience, the
real reason most people can’t make the jump to the next level is that their ego
can’t handle being re-ranked. Re-ranking is the toughest test of loyalty I know.

Comments (4)

  • It goes the other way, too. A good leader chooses to do what’s best for both the staff person and the organization. This is, in my opinion, even harder. You want to believe in your loyal employee. You don’t want them to feel like a failure, or perceive that you don’t like them. You want to return that loyalty. Yet, if they’re not doing they’re job, especially if their gifts don’t fit well with the job, then you’ve got to save both them and the organization from further pain, injury, and loss by moving/firing them. The fact that you put your friend under three different bosses shows that you were trying to look out for both. The fact that you eventually let them go also showed this fact, as it helped the friend to see that they aren’t wired that way, or maybe it helped him see a weakness he wasn’t willing to admit. Whatever, you helped him and the organization, yet I’m sure it was hard to consider moving him as a sign of loyalty and care. Great example.

  • This reminded me of my current situation. Maybe God has shown him something you do not or did not see in them.
    Without being too detailed, I was very hurt by my leadership. I had come to them to confess and ask for help. Instead I was told I was doing it the wrong way???What were they talking about? I tried going to several people in leadership about this, nothing. The situation was getting worse so I confronted the person. So that is why they said I did it wrong. Instead they revealed my past abuse to another Pastor, he said absolutely nothing he just sat there and listened the whole time quietly. I think he knew what was going on was wrong.
    The church split exactly one year later. My husband felt called to the church with the Pastor who said nothing. The Pastor admitted to my husband that our situation was handled the wrong way. Now here I am at this church and I love him but am terrified.
    Would he treat others like me the same way?
    Would he keep on watching spiritual abuses?
    Or would he take a stand next time. I understand the bible says we must submit to leadership, but this felt so dysfunctional. Who is the Leader at the top?
    Our Father in heaven. Does this glorify God?I understand this Pastor wants to love everyone (like the bible says) But I dont think it glorifies God when we see a pattern of sin happening and say love believes the best. Thats not really happening. I thought I could handle seeing this Pastor and his wife and being a part of this church. But lately its been getting worse. I was gone months after this happened and not a single person from church called me to see how I was doing. I think I am going to just remove myself now. I am currently going to a womens class right now and the pastors wife is teaching about vulnerability, I cant hear a word she says.

  • Deserie,

    what a complicated situation. without knowing the particulars of the story from various vantage points, i hesitate to wade in with advice.

    it could be that God is saying, “bless those who persecute you.” it could be that he has placed you in this situation to teach you longsuffering. it could be that you have been entirely upright and that you are swimming in a sea of dysfunction and just need to climb into some life raft.

    I don’t know. but i know that we’re called to walk out our faith with fear and trembling and to keep forgiving and to trust when there is no earthly reason why we should trust.

    so, i just pray that the Holy Spirit is your counselor here and that he shows you how you can bless the broken people around you. it is hardly ever easy, but though i don’t know you, i believe that God wants you to come out of this a hero, with your integrity, and with a testimony of helping the 100th sheep, the one that lost themselves while swimming alongside you in the sea of dysfunction.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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