Reading time: two minutes.
I grew up around a lot of neighborhood horses, but never had one of my own. I was curious about the expression “roughshod” so I looked it up and found this: “(of a horse) having shoes with nail heads projecting to prevent slipping.” That could make a real mess.
From time to time I hear congregations complain that their pastor is “running roughshod” over the church. That doesn’t sound good either.
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms defines “running roughshod” like this: “Act without regard for the feelings or interests of others, as in She just forges on, riding roughshod over her colleagues. This term alludes to the practice of arming horses with horseshoes mounted with projecting nails or points, which both gave them better traction and served as a weapon against fallen enemy soldiers. By 1800 it was being used figuratively for bullying behavior.”
In my thirty years of parish life, I had to watch my natural tendency to run roughshod. Let me explain.
Gary Schaper at the St Louis seminary offered the local pastors an inventory that helped us better understand our leadership style. I was shocked when he (accurately) described me as the reflective type who decided on a course of action and then “announced” to leadership what we would do!
I deeply believe that ministry is to be offered in a spirit of gentleness and that humility is the primary character quality of a church leader. I think my motives were always pure. My style needed attention.
I expect that we all battle this particular flaw to greater or lesser degrees; some of us probably are far more on the timid side, failing to adequately express our view. That’s a topic for another day.
I found it helpful to confess to many of my key leaders this natural tendency of mine to get things all figured out on the inside (I’m a Pointer!) and then try to sell my idea.
My leadership team then became a great help to me as we “baptized” my ideas for ministry. We laid Darrell’s ideas out for the whole group to discuss, to pray over, to inject with the wisdom of others. It was often humbling for me (that’s a good thing!) It was always better for the Lord’s kingdom purpose.
I had a chance to preach recently at my former congregation. It’s been six and a half years since I departed. It was good to see so many of those leaders, to look in their eyes and share the mutual acknowledgement that this was no longer “my” congregation, because we have all come to recognize that it never was.
I think I’ve learned that I’d try to wear even wear even gentler horseshoes if I were there today.
Thanks for reading.
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