the weblog of Alan Knox

Leading by Manipulating?

Posted by on Oct 8, 2010 in blog links | 5 comments

Leading by Manipulating?

LT from “GraceWorks.ca” has written a very interesting article called “Manipulation in leadership.” LT tells several personal stories. For example:

I remember a conversation I had with a worship leader at a Pentecostal college. He told me how much control he had over a congregation just by the way he played. Everyone attributed it to the work of the Holy Spirit but he was quite bothered by how much he felt he could manipulate the crowd.

Here’s another one:

Another thing I learned in “pastoral theology” was how to project an image. The belief was that a Christian leader must always be looked up to in the eyes of the people. If you expose your weaknesses people will lose faith in you.

LT says these are all examples of manipulation. He contrasts this with what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. He concludes with this:

Paul changed the western world one person at a time through love. I don’t think Christian leaders need to pretend or project. One can be open, honest, transparent and truthful and still lead. The catch is a lot of what Paul did is impossible if you are trying to influence hundreds of people at the same time.

So, is it possible to lead without manipulating? Is LT right that this is (nearly) impossible when dealing with a large group of people?


5 Comments

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  1. 10-8-2010

    I feel like you are trying to manipulate me into agreeing with your perspective by using good stories :)

  2. 10-8-2010

    I agree that leadership can happen without manipulation, but it has to be done in relationship. We must lead by example and by serving. That can’t be done if we don’t spend time with people and let them see us as we follow Jesus. That was the pattern of Jesus, Paul, and those that Paul discipled.

    I don’t believe that can be done with large groups.

  3. 10-8-2010

    I don’t think you can be a leader in an institutionalized system church with openness, honesty, and humility. To some extent you MUST project a veneer image. The whole pulpit routine is a bogus image that is projected and falsely pedestalized by all involved. Those involved in the system would deeply disagree with my statement but that is because they believe the whole thing is inspired by God and is His design. They are completely blind to the manipulation and posturing. They feel this is their “call from God”.

    God’s word and servant leadership is all trumped by “godly” men telling them and modeling for them how to do it. I went through the whole hired pastor training and grooming. I saw the posturing right off the bat but thought I could fix it and still get paid. I was so wrong. Then I thought I could be a strong layman and help the saints grow beyond their demand for this kind of “leadership”. I was wrong again. They love the whole thing. If a good posturer leaves “because God is calling him elsewhere”, these saints will pray for another one as good as he was. They don’t see the flesh driven image creation at all. It’s all seen as normal and even godly.

  4. 10-9-2010

    Alan

    You ask…
    “So, is it possible to lead without manipulating?”

    No!

    In my experience…
    When you assume the “Position” of “Leader” or allow people to to see you as a “Leader,”
    “Manipulation” has already begun. “Control” has already begun.
    And “Always” leads to **exercising authority** and “lording it over God’s heritage.”

    There is now separation, division, in the body of Christ.
    Some are “Leaders,” some are “Followers,”

    Some are more important, greater, then others.

    ………..

    Dictionarey – manipulate |məˈnipyəˌlāt| verb [ trans. ]

    1 – handle or **control** (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.
    (handle or **control** a group, a congregation?)

    2 – **control** or influence (a person or situation) **cleverly,** unfairly, or unscrupulously

    ………….

    “So, is it possible to lead without manipulating?”

    No!

    Only Jesus….

    ………….

    Tim – Much agreement. Similar experiences. You write…

    “I went through the whole hired pastor training and grooming. I saw the posturing right off the bat but thought I could fix it and still get paid. I was so wrong. Then I thought I could be a strong layman and help the saints grow beyond their demand for this kind of “leadership”. I was wrong again.”

    “They love the whole thing.”

    Yep, “Leaders,” They love the whole thing. Because along with being a “Leader” comes…
    Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Recognition, Reputation, the best seats.
    All those things Jesus spoke against.
    All those things that become “Idols” of the heart. Ezek 14:1-11.

    Seems Jesus humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation,
    took on the form of a servant. Phil 2:7-8

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.

  5. 1-12-2012

    Once again it all comes down to discipleship. Is influencing 100s of people at the same time desirable? Or even necessary? Only if we stick to the model we’ve been handed. Is that the model Jesus gave us. I don’t think it’s possible to manipulate others and pretend you’re something you’re not if you’re sincerely working to disciple others — and I don’t mean getting them to attend a “discipleship” class.