A local worship leader asked me how he can get more honest feedback from his team. He felt they weren't being completely straight with him because they were all such close friends. That brings up an interesting topic for discussion. What do you think?
Here's what I wrote:
"Sounds great bro. You can only ask. If they respond, then great. Otherwise, you might need to ask one on one and press for more honesty. I don't advocate anything like an anonymous suggestion box. People need to be responsible for what they say.
Just my experience: I don't think it is a healthy or reasonable expectation to think you can be close friends with everyone on the team. You can have biblical community and love. But, as the one who is responsible for the whole, is the prime driver, and ultimately the one who has to make the hard calls, it's not good for them all to see you as a peer. There may be a select few whom you are close to and have your trust. But for the most part, it is better for your leadership if they aren't thinking of you as another buddy on the team. You have to pastor and lead them which often means you have to say/do things they aren't going to like. The loving thing isn't often the preferable thing for many people.
My point from having vacillated on this for the past 25 years is there is a balance to be had between familiarity and authority. It's tough. I don't mind criticism either. We welcome it when it is done in love. But I will not sacrifice the health of the whole team to one toxic personality. More times than I would like to remember have I had to confront and/or remove someone from the team because of their unwillingness to change. It could be anything from a need to be featured all the time, to constant argumentativeness, to patterns/lifestyles of open sin that disqualify them from the privilege of the platform. Either way, it is no fun but necessary. Sometimes someone responds positively to a gracious process to restore them. Sometimes they self select and leave. I have even had folks who left in rebellion come back years later and thank me for confronting them even though they denied it.
Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is the hardest.
Another thing to think about. Sociologists will tell you a person can only really know 60-80 people. 100 if you're my wife:) At any given time I have 250 active volunteers on the WA team. I can't possible be buddies with all of them
If you are at a very large church there is no way everyone in the church can be known and personally valued by the senior pastor like you can as a staff person. If the church had to have that in order to follow his leadership you would get nowhere fast. The same would be true of a larger WA team.
If you try to be available to everyone you are good for no one. And your family will pay the highest price.
Jesus had hundreds of disciples. But he only chose 12 for his inner circle. And within the 12 there were just 3 who had the closest most intimate relationship with him. He was very intentional about how he invested his relational energy.