Spiritualized Dysfunction

spirtualized-dysThere are a multitude of them. So many that I think I could probably fill an entire book. They can be surprisingly creative or downright crazy. What are they? All the remarkably strange, yet somehow spiritual sounding, excuses I’ve heard for chaos and dysfunction within a variety of Christian organizations:

“Oh, we’re all workaholics. God expects us to work hard. We’re so dedicated that we just can’t go home until we drop!”

“We never know what we’re doing when we launch a new ministry. We fly by the seat of our pants and trust God will work it out. So far, He always has!”

“People had to work around the clock because our pastor decided to switch around that event at the last minute. It was total chaos, but the people who came were blessed. That’s all that matters to God, right?”

“We like to keep things loose. If we get too organized, we’ll lose the creative flow of the Holy Spirit.”

“Yeah, it would probably be a lot easier to do our jobs with better communication, but our leaders are so busy doing the things God has really called them to. We understand why they can’t take the time to fill us in.”

“It’s always crazy like this. We never have enough staff or resources, but somehow, God gives us the strength to keep going. After all, He expects us to press on and meet the needs.”

“You know, there is so much spiritual warfare that we can’t seem to get on top of things. We’d be much more effective if we weren’t always dealing with such opposition.”

“It’s our duty to protect that staff member because of their anointing. They cause lots of problems and get away with things no one else can, but they’re so gifted that we can’t function without them.”

And on and on and on it goes.  As Christians, it seems our ability to spiritualize (and therefore legitimize) our dysfunction is uncanny. It would almost be funny if it didn’t have such a profoundly negative impact on our organizations, our staff, the people we serve, and most significantly, on our witness to the world around us.

Of course, there is some legitimacy to some of these statements some of the time. Some of these things, some of the time, really can’t be avoided, and sometimes they represent the right and necessary way to go about things.


But if most (or even a few) of these statements are true for your organization most of the time—or even a lot of the time—you may be veering into something that is not okay. Something that is not normal, not efficient, not good stewardship, and, most likely, not of God.

Is it possible that any of these statements are representative of cultural norms within your organization? Or maybe there are others, not specifically mentioned, that you immediately thought of when you read the list. Since these dysfunctional behaviors are established over time through agreement, the only way to tear them down is also through agreement. Those with authority within the organization need to break their agreement with the dysfunctional patterns and come into agreement with the truth of God’s Word on these matters. It is always truth that sets us free.

It is impossible to cover this topic appropriately in the context of a brief blog post, but I am highlighting it in this abbreviated format to bring awareness to the fact that it does exist and many of the not-so-excellent organizational behaviors that plague many churches and ministries can be at least partially rooted in the fact that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. While there are always many practical tools and principles to consider, the most important thing you can do on an ongoing basis is to pray for, and especially with, your staff. When you do, make those prayers count. Model transparency. Address real issues. Be willing stop tiptoeing around any elephants in the room and lay it all out before God. Search for Scriptures and promises that address the organization’s particular needs and situations and craft them into prayers you can declare together with your staff.

Perhaps most important of all, ask your staff to pray for you. Ask them to pray specifically that you will have the wisdom and grace to become (and remain) above reproach as an employer and that you will be absolutely committed to excellence in every area of your employment practices.

Because Jesus—and your staff—are worth your very best.

This post is an edited excerpt from Chapter 4: “Spiritualized Dysfunction” from my book HR Matters.  Click HERE to get your copy today!

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