Embattled or Challenged?

What’s the difference between an ’embattled’ leader and a ‘challenged’ leader in the church?

Margaret Marcusun tries to answer this question in a post over at ChurchCentral.com.

Here’s part of Margaret’s assessment:

What is the difference between a church leader who is embattled, and one who is challenged? From one perspective, nothing is different. Circumstances may look exactly the same: A big budget deficit. Members up in arms. A media frenzy. A staff crisis. And yet. And yet….you can see the difference in the leader’s eyes. Embattled leaders are frantic. They turn from one possible solution to the next one, unable to make a choice. Or they withdraw, hiding away like the captain of the Titanic or Ken Lay of Enron.

Leaders who are challenged look different. They stand on two feet. They are ready for anything that comes their way. They take responsibility. Harry Truman is the archetypal example of a challenged leader, with his well-known desk sign, The Buck Stops Here.

Leaders who are embattled can’t think clearly, seeing only negative options. By contrast, those who are challenged think:

What information is important, and what should I ignore?

Whom should I pay attention to and whom should I ignore?

What decisions need to be made now, and how can I think clearly about hem?

So… a challenged leader can think straight; and an embattled leader loses the ability to cope and think rationally.

I can buy that.

But that’s a fine line.

Many pastors don’t have a sounding board, friend, or service that will allow them to get out from under all the stress, bounce off ideas and scenarios, and help them to think straight.  That’s a problem.

I think there are a lot of embattled pastors because they have no confidants.

A person you can confide in will help even the faintest of heart work through a situation.

What do you think?

You can read more here…


[box type=”info”]Has there been a time in your ministry that you felt ’embattled’? How did you win the battle and move on?[/box]


  • PastorShane January 28, 2013 Reply

    yup, been there ~ done that ~ got the tee shirt on both of them.
    “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12
    However, the greatest lessons I have learned in ministry ~ has come out of times of “Embattled”.
    It served to humble & instill a more clear perspective of who God is and who I am.
    Thank you for the article, very thought provoking.

  • churchleadership January 29, 2013 Reply

    I agree, it’s a fine line. And it’s true that you really need someone to talk to about these matters (ideally not a spouse or someone in the congregation). When it’s happening, you’re just too close to it.

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