Wednesday, June 5, 2019

LESSON 16 – The Bully in the Church Boardroom

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Werner Jacobsen is our guest blogger this week for the second of three lessons in "Part 5: Boardroom Bloopers.”

LESSON 16 OF 40 – The Bully in the Church Boardroom
God, the pastor, the board chair, and other board members must neutralize the board bully.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 16, the authors note that… 
• A church bully manipulates, pressures, blames, and coerces people to follow his/her idea or agenda.
• Church bullies wreak havoc and cause dissension, even when not in a leadership role like Chair.
• Church bullies do not listen well—yet they expect everyone else to listen to their position. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 16, pages 89-92:
 They are famous for using the phrase “People are saying…” Yet "people" is never defined. The true complainer is never identified.
• Appoint or elect individuals to key leadership positions with care. (Thus depriving the bully from a platform.)
• Be a high-expectations church. Higher expectation churches tend to be more unified…more servant-oriented. High expectations provide an environment where bullying is ineffective.

In addition to the bully use of “the people are saying…” stinger, some bullying types reference previous service experiences by saying “…when I served on XYX board, we did it this way.” They try to validate their position by associating it with another organization. It often points out that they are not really able to be credible in their own presentation. (And sometimes if they mention XYZ board too often, you wonder why they didn’t stay there!)

Bullies are often also capable of being passive-aggressive: if they do not agree with someone’s suggestion (because they do not have an “answer” to an issue) they may mention, “Why fix something if it is not broken?” And thus they hope to have their answer ready by next time!

Bullies, in their demanding and commanding manners, can tend to show a goodly amount of arrogance—and arrogance makes any message offensive. But they do not understand that result any better than they understand how bullying their style is. 


Werner Jacobsen is currently the Elder Chair for Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, Calif. He has served in numerous local and national board roles, including church, denomination, higher education, and community. 

A former CEO and CFO, Werner now chairs a CEO roundtable group of Christian CEOs/Owners who seek to be better stewards in the marketplace with the resources God has entrusted to their leadership.

• Check to be certain your Board Policies Manual provides responsibility and authority to the Chair to deal with bullying members.
• Do not let a bullying situation fester. Address it with a God-honoring solution. (And that may mean asking the bully to leave.)
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, “Lesson 16 – The Bully in the Church Boardroom.”

On June 12, 2019, watch for the commentary by Tim Winters on Lesson 17, 
"Don’t Be Late—or Annoying!”


BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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