5 Suggestions for When the Senior Leader is Unpopular

Heart of God
When everything and everybody seem against you, maintain the heart of God. (Lightstock)

Making the right decision isn't always appreciated. If a leader is going to do anything of value, it will involve risks and be subject to the opinions of others.

There will be days, weeks and seasons in which it feels as if everyone is against you, even though you know—because of insight you have that others don't or because of a calling of God—that you are doing the best thing for the organization.

These are hard days for the leader. I once wrote about the loneliness of these times in leadership here.

How do you respond when your position of senior leader is not that popular? Here are a few suggestions:

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1. Make sure you are following your heart and God's will. The two should almost always go together because if you are seeking His heart, He will align your heart to His. Notice I didn't say your emotions. I'm talking about your gut, your conviction—that inner peace and assurance to follow Him that only He can provide.

But even if not, follow God's will as best as you can discern it. Remember that men and women throughout the Bible and church history have been persecuted even when they were in the center of God's will. (Remember Jesus? He was too!)

2. Surround yourself with those who believe in you. You have supporters—even if it is just a remnant of people—but they are somewhere to be found. Sometimes those people may only be found among your immediate family, but even though you may feel you are alone, you are not. Open your eyes to those who are still on your team, believe in you and are in your corner. (Remember Elijah? He thought he was alone also. Read 1 Kings 19. He wasn't.)

3. Be flexible. There are some things that are not worth arguing about. You may have to alter some of what you want to do in order to do what's best for everyone and to be obedient to God. (Remember Peter's vision in Acts 10? He had to alter his plans and it was likely unpopular with his comrades.)

4. Don't compromise truth. Being flexible does not mean altering the vision God has given you. Stay true without wavering to the call of God on your life, even when it's uncomfortable to do so. (Read the commitment of Joshua in Joshua 24. In spite of others' decisions, Joshua was sticking with God.)

5. Push forward. Once you know you are heading in the right direction and you've surrounded yourself with a few people who support you, move forward without looking back, regardless of who you leave behind in the process. (See Nehemiah 4-6 for a reminder of a leader who moved forward in spite of opposition.)

When you begin to see the reality of God working in your life, you'll be glad that you stayed the course. The sense of loneliness is real—it's hard and it's uncomfortable—but more than that, it's normal. It's a natural part of the process of leading.

If you need more encouragement, read my blogs on team leadership and persevering when leadership is difficult.

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

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