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Leadership reflections: On crucial conversations and criticism

Leadership Reflections 014

Over the last few years we have all heard and processed news of leaders who have fallen short of the high standards that are laid out in the Bible. For many of us these instances have been upsetting, painful and heartbreaking. We share those feelings of pain at the abuse, ill treatment and hurt that has been experienced around the Church.

It’s caused Debby and me to reflect again, with some of our team, on the leadership lessons we can learn in this moment; lessons for our own churches and those across the wider Vineyard family here in the UK and Ireland. 

This series of Leadership Reflections contains some teaching and lessons which we have shared with Vineyard Senior Pastors over the last few years.  As we continue to listen and learn from this season, we wanted to open these resources up to anyone who would find them helpful by publishing them publicly.

Our prayer is that you might find these helpful and by the grace of God, together we can create churches that are safe, Kingdom-centred communities for us all to call home.    

John & Debby Wright

National Directors

Vineyard Churches UK & Ireland


We are entrusted with the care of the flock, and that sometimes involves addressing behaviours which are hurting the flock. Perhaps you are leading a team, whether they are paid or unpaid. A team member’s behaviour may be unhelpful to the team. If we are the leader it is our responsibility to address it.

What is best for the team?

Just as we ask the question, what is best for the church, so we do well to ask What is best for the team? You may have a high personal tolerance for someone’s behaviour or poor performance, but their presence on the team – if not addressed – may be damaging to the team and team dynamics.

I have sometimes failed significantly in this, as I have let team members’ unhelpful behaviour go unaddressed when on reflection I probably should have said something. Being patient and gracious are good things except where something needs to be addressed for the sake of the team, and the overall good of the church. As we lead the flock of God there are times when we are biblically required to admonish, to rebuke and correct. It’s no fun, but it comes with the calling.

Keep a perspective on criticism and praise

It can be really encouraging when people say or write complimentary things to us or about us. Charles Montgomery says: “Praise is like chewing gum. It’s okay to chew on it for a short while, but don’t swallow it”.

“Praise is like chewing gum. It’s okay to chew on it for a short while, but don’t swallow it”

In the same way it can feel devastating when we are criticised or people say nasty things about us. The same advice usually applies.

A great rule of thumb is to not let either criticism or praise have any hold on us. The reality is that we are not as bad as some people think we are, and we are not as good as others think we are. All that truly matters is what the Lord thinks of us.

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