Leadership Topic: When they “just don’t get it.”

“Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.” (PROV. 26:1)

If you have ever left a conversation shaking your head and saying to yourself (or openly) “they just don’t get” then this post may or may not be for you. With this said people wired to go from 0 – 60 mph on the impatient scale in a flash may always be asking this question. However, over time you will (not if but when) encounter someone that will cause you to react in this way.

Well, what if they really do not get it. You have to break down what, in fact, is “it.” “It” may be a concept in business, a philosophy in ministry, or as simple as a difference in personality. The point is that it would be wise to define what the “it” is before moving to the actual intent of this post.

What do you do in an organization in which an individual or group of individuals just “doesn’t get it.” Any good leader that has concern for the organization will more than likely put the time necessary into making sure communication barriers are in place to make sure the goals and mission are clear. However, there is a phrase (I have a much longer post about this being prepared as well.) that to many comes across as harsh. That is to call someone a fool. Sadly, there are a number of words or phrases that no matter how hard one tries they cannot make it politically correct or soften its blow. Today, a website that I regularly read for various articles placed an emphasis on this subject.

James MacDonald writes:

“I have come to believe that failure in the season of conflict—failure to deal with it, failure to learn from it, failure to move beyond it—prevents entrance into a new season of joy. For that reason alone, I have tried to handle conflict in the best possible way.

Two verses tucked away in Proverbs 26 have been very helpful to me, and I have been reminded about them again just recently. On the page they look like a contradiction, but in real life they work together like hand and glove, if you let them. Here’s the first one to master:

Proverbs 26:5 “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Answer the fool—he thinks he’s so smart, has it all figured out in his brashness and needs to be set straight. Do your job, don’t fear the fallout. Tell him directly and with kindness what his folly is and why his insolence or block-headed pride or denial are destroying him. Step up to the plate and take one for the team.

There is nothing worse than a fool on the loose, and they can devastate any organization or ministry. Do your job, stop the fool in his tracks and set the fool straight. OK? Just do it!

The problem is, fools do not like to be set straight. Which leads to the all-important balance of the proverb in closest proximity.

Proverbs 26:4 “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”

Fools are fools for a reason, and it’s not because they are deaf or blind; it’s because they are dull of hearing. Just one verse earlier we are told, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools.” And knowing that we cannot bring the rod to bear upon a fool in our churches, we try to ‘bring the rod’ with many words.”

(You can read this article in its entirety by following this link.)

Now, it is difficult to find an individual that walks around on a crusade looking for a fight for pure enjoyment. When you find one you may want to encourage them to find a new hobby because they may have too much free time. The sad truth is that in any organization or profession moments arise that require confrontation. Confrontation sounds negative but it does not have to be negative. It means being direct. Positive or negative these moments are critical in an organization. You know what I mean.

The person in the Bible that just does not nor will not seek understanding or cooperate is called a fool.  A foolish person, when left alone, will destroy your organization.  Look again at Proverbs 26:4 in the statement above.  In addition to slowing progress if we try to argue with a fool we may run the risk of lowering standards and halting services to our communities simply from allowing them to have their way.  Each person individually and corporately within a church or organization will arrive at the place in which they ask “How long will we allow this to go on here?”  This question is never fun to ask but it is necessary.  Sadly, a foolish person will never learn.  Do not fail to deal, quickly, lovingly and directly, with a fool.  Dealing with one may be the catalyst to move your organization to its next great level of growth and development.

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