LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“Leadership Isn’t Gripe Management”
by Tom Goodman
October 13, 2005

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Once upon a time an old man and a boy were on a trip to the market, which was several towns away.  They led a donkey behind them, because they knew they would need the donkey’s strong back to carry the supplies they would buy at the market.  As they walked through one village, however, the townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal's back.

When they came to the next village, though, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride.  So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal's back and continued on his way.

In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and so to please them the man climbed on with the boy and they set off again.

In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.

So that’s why the people in the fifth village saw the strangest thing they had ever seen: an old man and a boy carrying a donkey between them.

The moral of the story:  Leaders do dumb things when they let critics dictate their actions.

Leaders have to maintain a delicate balance.  We shouldn’t ignore critics, but neither should we indulge them.

On the one hand, complainers can’t be ignored because they are sometimes a leader’s best source of information.  Spending time with someone who doesn’t like what you do is hardly pleasant, but you may get more helpful information from that person than you do from your friends.

On the other hand, detractors can’t be indulged, either.  When you start changing your vision in fear of criticism, you’ve lost your authority to lead.  It discourages those who like your direction when they watch you kowtow to those who don’t.

Leadership isn’t gripe management.  If your main motivation in decision-making is simply to reduce the number of gripes you get, it’s time to re-evaluate if you’ve got what it takes to lead people.  When God gives you a vision of where he wants you to bring a group, eat your Wheaties and stand firm.

Otherwise, you may find yourself someday gently carrying a donkey through town.


The Leadership Breakfast is almost here!  Mark your calendars for the Leadership Breakfast on Saturday, October 22.  Remember, this was moved from September due to the hurricane.  This will be a time of inspiration and important information for anyone who has a role at Hillcrest.  If you serve at Hillcrest in any capacity, you’ll benefit from this annual breakfast.  Your Ministry Staff will serve breakfast at 8:30, and then we’ll begin a fast-paced look at vital information for your work at Hillcrest.  We’ll end by 11:30 a.m.  Your RSVP for breakfast is encouraged but not required (but your RSVP for childcare is encouraged and required!).

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