This came as a surprise to some — especially those who know me primarily from my preaching — as my sermons often have an emphatic clarity about them.
Yet out of the pulpit, I can wallow in indecision.
Whether it has to do with personnel, programming, or even the direction of the church as a whole, I often retreat towards the limbo of “I don’t know.” Secretly, I’ve even prayed “just let THEM make the decision when I’m out of the room so that I can come back into the room and the issue is settled.”
As I reflected on this character defect, I realized where it comes from: I don’t want to hurt feelings.
Any decision a leader makes has the potential of hurting the feelings of someone else in the organization.
It’s true of staff changes, programming adjustments (that is, stopping a program that’s no longer effective even though it is much loved!), and even what outside groups the church will work with.
And with hurt feelings, of course, comes the specter of most preachers’ worst nightmare: people leaving the church.
“I’m leaving Good Shepherd and headed to Better Shepherd!”
What’s the irony in all this indecision?
Simple: by not deciding, I run the risk of hurting more feelings in the long run than if I would simply man up and make up my mind. More people will be alienated with prolonged indecision than ever will be with a quick, thorough, and clear decision.
We are in the middle of some heady days at Good Shepherd with a great many decisions behind us that only assure that we will have to make many more ahead.
My prayer is that as I grow in self-awareness around indecision, I will become less frightened of hurting people’s feelings and more fearful of delaying the mission of the church.