Holy Spirit Inspired Management

I’ve written much here regarding what it means to be an employee and work empowered or inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I have not addressed it though specifically from the perspective of management.

Today, at church, I was speaking with one of our elders who was struggling with managing a subordinate with whom he had become increasingly frustrated.

He had not said anything to the subordinate but instead tried to be patient; then he got frustrated and had to control his emotions when he did finally talk to him.

This is a common problem I see as an employment lawyer who advises both employers and employees. The answer for Kingdom citizens lies in working inspired by the Holy Spirit, who manages and supervises us. His instructions are given to us in His written Word, but He also illuminates that word so it becomes even clearer to us. His role is as a guide, teacher, and helper in the things He commands us to do. John 14:26; 16:13. He holds us accountable to the tasks we are given first with a whisper, followed by conviction, and ending with judgment if we persist in our disobedience. The biggest complaints I hear against managers fall into one of these three categories.

First, managers do not always state clearly what they expect of their subordinates. Most employees want to succeed but if success is not clearly defined it can make their task near impossible.

Second, managers often do not attempt to help subordinates be successful. One of the most common complaints I get from employees is that they received no training from their managers in how to perform successfully.

Third, managers are reluctant to administer progressive discipline. They want to be liked by their subordinates and/or, like most of us, they don’t like conflict. So, they avoid counseling a poor-performing subordinate. What they are doing is fundamentally self-interested; they are elevating man-pleasing and conflict-avoidance above the ultimate good of their subordinate. Inevitably they wait until their anger with their subordinate overrides any reservations about conflict or being liked and then administer an angry reprimand. If the subordinate did not know he was not performing—which is often the case—he now sees his manager as an unreasonable tyrant.

In short, model the Holy Spirit. Be clear in your instructions. Teach, guide, and help your subordinate be successful. If he is not performing, be gentle, then firm, and if he still does not improve, make the decision to suspend, demote, or terminate. GS