Leadership: I want respect AND love…

As a leader in the local church, I have to confess that I want both respect and love, but if I were to choose it would have to be respect.  This goes for parenting, too.  My kids cannot always be my best friends when they need me to lean into them about cleaning their rooms.  As a pastor, people may want a friendship with me, but their need is for a leader who they can respect as well as love.  They will not always agree with me. They will not always be happy with me.  But, given those facts, they will need respect me enough in order to follow me.  I believe that real love and happiness comes from the honest give-and-take that comes from the messy dealings with people.

Matthew 18 is quoted often as a "process" for confrontation, yet it is more than that and not necessarily just about one person who is right confronting another who is wrong.  Who is the real judge in this process?  Matthew 18 is two imperfect people forced to be messy with each other in the presence of Jesus, giving Jesus the opportunity to transform and mature both of them. One person is initiating the process.  Two parties are involved, but Jesus is in the room. So, when people come forward to complain to me, they might be missing something in that they might be changed by the process if we do it right.  After all, Jesus promises to be there when we have these kinds of talks.

The breakdown often is that church people feel entitled to be happy and when I or any other leader disappoints them.  Our people think somehow it is always has to be a "right and wrong" issue rather than an opportunity for their transformation as much as it is for mine.  Every teacher realizes that you cannot preach what you do not live and so preparing a sermon on patience will bring opportunity to live it out. Ouch.  However, we do our church people a disservice without explaining this log-out-of-your-own-eye experience that is part of following Christ maturely.

"Johnny, don’t run out into the street or you’ll get hit by a bus!" screams a frantic mom at her son as he runs toward the street.  To this five-year-old he was scolded severely and begins to tear up and wonder whether or not his mom still loves him.  Yet, later he realizes that mom is simply wanting him to not get hit by a bus.  So, I want respect and love.  However, sometimes I have to be sure to remind people to respect my leadership before they can love me the right way. Sometimes I have to respect an individual’s needs before I think of their happiness.  They might need the hard words.  Later, they can love me.

My dad did something one day to me that made me mad for months. When I was about twelve, my dad did the usual and made the point to me that I could not go out and ride my bike until I cleaned my bedroom.  I proceeded to stuff all the toys, clothes and clutter into closets, drawers and under the bed.  I amazingly finished my room cleaning in less than five minutes.  I thought I had duped my dad.  But, dad being a former military man, had on a sharp eye. 

Suddenly what appeared as a mad fit of rage erupted.  My dad pulled my mattress off the bed into the center of the room.  He emptied the entire contents of the closet into a sheet, depositing it on mattress. Every dresser drawer was poured out onto the floor.  Within a minute my entire bedroom was now a pile of clutter four feet high.  My dad calmly looked at me and said, "Rich, now clean your room."

Later, even today, I deeply love my step dad and wholly respect him.  At that moment of my room disaster hugs were not going to happen.  However, they came later.  He loved me.  But, he needed me to respect him.  And, because of the three-hour room cleaning that was painful not just for me but for my dad, I do.  But, I also love him for it.

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

68 comments

  1. I Hate You!!!!

  2. I Hate You!!!!

  3. I Hate You!!!!

  4. I Hate You!!!!

  5. I Hate You!!!!

  6. I Hate You!!!!

  7. I Hate You!!!!

  8. I Hate You!!!!

  9. I Really, Really Hate You!!!!!
    And I mean it!!

  10. I Really, Really Hate You!!!!!
    And I mean it!!

  11. I Really, Really Hate You!!!!!
    And I mean it!!

  12. I Really, Really Hate You!!!!!
    And I mean it!!

  13. Just Kidding 😉
    Couldn’t resist. Nothing but love and respect for you oh captain my captain. Just don’t ever sneak into my house and mess up my room.

    Well said by the way

    See ya tomorrow!!!! 🙂

  14. Just Kidding 😉
    Couldn’t resist. Nothing but love and respect for you oh captain my captain. Just don’t ever sneak into my house and mess up my room.

    Well said by the way

    See ya tomorrow!!!! 🙂

  15. Just Kidding 😉
    Couldn’t resist. Nothing but love and respect for you oh captain my captain. Just don’t ever sneak into my house and mess up my room.

    Well said by the way

    See ya tomorrow!!!! 🙂

  16. Just Kidding 😉
    Couldn’t resist. Nothing but love and respect for you oh captain my captain. Just don’t ever sneak into my house and mess up my room.

    Well said by the way

    See ya tomorrow!!!! 🙂

  17. The deal is for me I love you and respect you, but lets face it I love everyone, yeah right. Totally love ya and respect ya, I’m good on both sides here.

  18. The deal is for me I love you and respect you, but lets face it I love everyone, yeah right. Totally love ya and respect ya, I’m good on both sides here.

  19. The deal is for me I love you and respect you, but lets face it I love everyone, yeah right. Totally love ya and respect ya, I’m good on both sides here.

  20. The deal is for me I love you and respect you, but lets face it I love everyone, yeah right. Totally love ya and respect ya, I’m good on both sides here.

  21. Excellent. I think God is like this, too. He wants our love, but will have our respect, regardless.

  22. Excellent. I think God is like this, too. He wants our love, but will have our respect, regardless.

  23. Excellent. I think God is like this, too. He wants our love, but will have our respect, regardless.

  24. Excellent. I think God is like this, too. He wants our love, but will have our respect, regardless.

  25. I would say that I want respect too. However, could this be the difference between men and women? I believe if women had a choice they would choose love over respect.

  26. I would say that I want respect too. However, could this be the difference between men and women? I believe if women had a choice they would choose love over respect.

  27. I would say that I want respect too. However, could this be the difference between men and women? I believe if women had a choice they would choose love over respect.

  28. I would say that I want respect too. However, could this be the difference between men and women? I believe if women had a choice they would choose love over respect.

  29. Hi Peter…that could be true since there is a book out about that. However, my point is that as a leader I would hope for both, and the path is first respect. I think this would apply to a woman in leadership as much as for a man. It is hard to lead well without both, really.

  30. Hi Peter…that could be true since there is a book out about that. However, my point is that as a leader I would hope for both, and the path is first respect. I think this would apply to a woman in leadership as much as for a man. It is hard to lead well without both, really.

  31. Hi Peter…that could be true since there is a book out about that. However, my point is that as a leader I would hope for both, and the path is first respect. I think this would apply to a woman in leadership as much as for a man. It is hard to lead well without both, really.

  32. Hi Peter…that could be true since there is a book out about that. However, my point is that as a leader I would hope for both, and the path is first respect. I think this would apply to a woman in leadership as much as for a man. It is hard to lead well without both, really.

  33. I think this is so true and a hard lesson that a leader must learn sometime in his or her life. I also think it is a speedbump that up and coming leaders hit and either they find a way to get past, or spend their lives coddling their followers and never get far. I’m still learning this one myself – I hate conflict and hate hurting people’s feelings… this will of course spark a posting. Thanks Rich.

  34. I think this is so true and a hard lesson that a leader must learn sometime in his or her life. I also think it is a speedbump that up and coming leaders hit and either they find a way to get past, or spend their lives coddling their followers and never get far. I’m still learning this one myself – I hate conflict and hate hurting people’s feelings… this will of course spark a posting. Thanks Rich.

  35. I think this is so true and a hard lesson that a leader must learn sometime in his or her life. I also think it is a speedbump that up and coming leaders hit and either they find a way to get past, or spend their lives coddling their followers and never get far. I’m still learning this one myself – I hate conflict and hate hurting people’s feelings… this will of course spark a posting. Thanks Rich.

  36. I think this is so true and a hard lesson that a leader must learn sometime in his or her life. I also think it is a speedbump that up and coming leaders hit and either they find a way to get past, or spend their lives coddling their followers and never get far. I’m still learning this one myself – I hate conflict and hate hurting people’s feelings… this will of course spark a posting. Thanks Rich.

  37. I love the illustration about your Dad. It has some great parallels with the sort of “deep cleaning” needed in our lives. We just want to hide our “stuff” but Father dumps it in the middle of the room and wants us to deal with it properly. Talk about messy!!
    We probably see things quite differently on the subject of leaders/followers in the body of Christ. Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but it sounds like you have some really high expectations of your fellow believers (in your local church) simply because you have been placed in a leadership position. Do they OWE you more love and respect as a church leader than as a fellow Christian?

    That’s one of the inherent problems in hiring leaders from outside a local church: they step into a “position” rather than letting years of sacrificial service “promote” them from within the ranks of people who already love and respect them. When new leaders get hired, they hope that people will love and respect them for the position’s sake alone; and it can sometimes set them up for disappointment and failure if these things take too long in coming to them. They haven’t really earned it, yet they expect it all the same. So when they act as if they deserve it, people in the pew think, “He hasn’t paid his dues yet!” A recipe for disaster.

  38. I love the illustration about your Dad. It has some great parallels with the sort of “deep cleaning” needed in our lives. We just want to hide our “stuff” but Father dumps it in the middle of the room and wants us to deal with it properly. Talk about messy!!
    We probably see things quite differently on the subject of leaders/followers in the body of Christ. Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but it sounds like you have some really high expectations of your fellow believers (in your local church) simply because you have been placed in a leadership position. Do they OWE you more love and respect as a church leader than as a fellow Christian?

    That’s one of the inherent problems in hiring leaders from outside a local church: they step into a “position” rather than letting years of sacrificial service “promote” them from within the ranks of people who already love and respect them. When new leaders get hired, they hope that people will love and respect them for the position’s sake alone; and it can sometimes set them up for disappointment and failure if these things take too long in coming to them. They haven’t really earned it, yet they expect it all the same. So when they act as if they deserve it, people in the pew think, “He hasn’t paid his dues yet!” A recipe for disaster.

  39. I love the illustration about your Dad. It has some great parallels with the sort of “deep cleaning” needed in our lives. We just want to hide our “stuff” but Father dumps it in the middle of the room and wants us to deal with it properly. Talk about messy!!
    We probably see things quite differently on the subject of leaders/followers in the body of Christ. Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but it sounds like you have some really high expectations of your fellow believers (in your local church) simply because you have been placed in a leadership position. Do they OWE you more love and respect as a church leader than as a fellow Christian?

    That’s one of the inherent problems in hiring leaders from outside a local church: they step into a “position” rather than letting years of sacrificial service “promote” them from within the ranks of people who already love and respect them. When new leaders get hired, they hope that people will love and respect them for the position’s sake alone; and it can sometimes set them up for disappointment and failure if these things take too long in coming to them. They haven’t really earned it, yet they expect it all the same. So when they act as if they deserve it, people in the pew think, “He hasn’t paid his dues yet!” A recipe for disaster.

  40. I love the illustration about your Dad. It has some great parallels with the sort of “deep cleaning” needed in our lives. We just want to hide our “stuff” but Father dumps it in the middle of the room and wants us to deal with it properly. Talk about messy!!
    We probably see things quite differently on the subject of leaders/followers in the body of Christ. Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but it sounds like you have some really high expectations of your fellow believers (in your local church) simply because you have been placed in a leadership position. Do they OWE you more love and respect as a church leader than as a fellow Christian?

    That’s one of the inherent problems in hiring leaders from outside a local church: they step into a “position” rather than letting years of sacrificial service “promote” them from within the ranks of people who already love and respect them. When new leaders get hired, they hope that people will love and respect them for the position’s sake alone; and it can sometimes set them up for disappointment and failure if these things take too long in coming to them. They haven’t really earned it, yet they expect it all the same. So when they act as if they deserve it, people in the pew think, “He hasn’t paid his dues yet!” A recipe for disaster.

  41. This post brought some debate…hehe. 🙂
    Respect and Love. Hmmm. It’s a need that we crave, but when it’s all said and done… Leaders must be the servant to all. I have learned this lesson the very hard way.. After trying to enforce love and respect out of position… It never works. It fails you and the people. People will only give you authority to speak into their lives. Not position. Like Paul does, he appealed to them on the basis of love, but never forced them out of position.

    When we ourselves are being filled with Love from the Father, we in turn are able to lay down our positions, wants and needs to give our very lives for one another without the need to receive love and respect. Jesus operated this way with His relationship with the Father. He constantly spent time with the Father and received all the love He needed to fulfill the purposes His Father gave Him… without the worry of everyone rejecting Him and turning away… They all failed Him.. they left Him in His greatest hour of need… but that didn’t stop Him from being a servant to all.

    This is all said not out of trying to be a know-it-all… but out of the deep process God has had me in… moving me to be the least and faceless, but filled with His love to secure my very being.. to move me in His purpose for my life properly and without security from other things.

    Rich, Know that I love you and I hear your heart and need… and frustration..hehe. The agenda God is after is the loss of your life, reputation and respect for the sake of others! But out of it you get more of HIM! and can represent HIM more than ever.

  42. This post brought some debate…hehe. 🙂
    Respect and Love. Hmmm. It’s a need that we crave, but when it’s all said and done… Leaders must be the servant to all. I have learned this lesson the very hard way.. After trying to enforce love and respect out of position… It never works. It fails you and the people. People will only give you authority to speak into their lives. Not position. Like Paul does, he appealed to them on the basis of love, but never forced them out of position.

    When we ourselves are being filled with Love from the Father, we in turn are able to lay down our positions, wants and needs to give our very lives for one another without the need to receive love and respect. Jesus operated this way with His relationship with the Father. He constantly spent time with the Father and received all the love He needed to fulfill the purposes His Father gave Him… without the worry of everyone rejecting Him and turning away… They all failed Him.. they left Him in His greatest hour of need… but that didn’t stop Him from being a servant to all.

    This is all said not out of trying to be a know-it-all… but out of the deep process God has had me in… moving me to be the least and faceless, but filled with His love to secure my very being.. to move me in His purpose for my life properly and without security from other things.

    Rich, Know that I love you and I hear your heart and need… and frustration..hehe. The agenda God is after is the loss of your life, reputation and respect for the sake of others! But out of it you get more of HIM! and can represent HIM more than ever.

  43. This post brought some debate…hehe. 🙂
    Respect and Love. Hmmm. It’s a need that we crave, but when it’s all said and done… Leaders must be the servant to all. I have learned this lesson the very hard way.. After trying to enforce love and respect out of position… It never works. It fails you and the people. People will only give you authority to speak into their lives. Not position. Like Paul does, he appealed to them on the basis of love, but never forced them out of position.

    When we ourselves are being filled with Love from the Father, we in turn are able to lay down our positions, wants and needs to give our very lives for one another without the need to receive love and respect. Jesus operated this way with His relationship with the Father. He constantly spent time with the Father and received all the love He needed to fulfill the purposes His Father gave Him… without the worry of everyone rejecting Him and turning away… They all failed Him.. they left Him in His greatest hour of need… but that didn’t stop Him from being a servant to all.

    This is all said not out of trying to be a know-it-all… but out of the deep process God has had me in… moving me to be the least and faceless, but filled with His love to secure my very being.. to move me in His purpose for my life properly and without security from other things.

    Rich, Know that I love you and I hear your heart and need… and frustration..hehe. The agenda God is after is the loss of your life, reputation and respect for the sake of others! But out of it you get more of HIM! and can represent HIM more than ever.

  44. This post brought some debate…hehe. 🙂
    Respect and Love. Hmmm. It’s a need that we crave, but when it’s all said and done… Leaders must be the servant to all. I have learned this lesson the very hard way.. After trying to enforce love and respect out of position… It never works. It fails you and the people. People will only give you authority to speak into their lives. Not position. Like Paul does, he appealed to them on the basis of love, but never forced them out of position.

    When we ourselves are being filled with Love from the Father, we in turn are able to lay down our positions, wants and needs to give our very lives for one another without the need to receive love and respect. Jesus operated this way with His relationship with the Father. He constantly spent time with the Father and received all the love He needed to fulfill the purposes His Father gave Him… without the worry of everyone rejecting Him and turning away… They all failed Him.. they left Him in His greatest hour of need… but that didn’t stop Him from being a servant to all.

    This is all said not out of trying to be a know-it-all… but out of the deep process God has had me in… moving me to be the least and faceless, but filled with His love to secure my very being.. to move me in His purpose for my life properly and without security from other things.

    Rich, Know that I love you and I hear your heart and need… and frustration..hehe. The agenda God is after is the loss of your life, reputation and respect for the sake of others! But out of it you get more of HIM! and can represent HIM more than ever.

  45. Do leaders have more responsibility before Jesus than their fellow Christians? That really is the question, Bill. Those who teach, indeed. But, for the sake of the main point of this post, that really does not matter. The idea that we coddle each other as believers rather than calling each other to deeper things indeed is the problem I am addressing. We are too concerned with entitlement and hurting feelings. Our true love of each other in the community comes from the respect that comes from lovingly, humbly but firmly bringing truth into each other’s lives.
    But, those who lead are more responsible to do these things. Owed anything? More judgment.

  46. Do leaders have more responsibility before Jesus than their fellow Christians? That really is the question, Bill. Those who teach, indeed. But, for the sake of the main point of this post, that really does not matter. The idea that we coddle each other as believers rather than calling each other to deeper things indeed is the problem I am addressing. We are too concerned with entitlement and hurting feelings. Our true love of each other in the community comes from the respect that comes from lovingly, humbly but firmly bringing truth into each other’s lives.
    But, those who lead are more responsible to do these things. Owed anything? More judgment.

  47. Do leaders have more responsibility before Jesus than their fellow Christians? That really is the question, Bill. Those who teach, indeed. But, for the sake of the main point of this post, that really does not matter. The idea that we coddle each other as believers rather than calling each other to deeper things indeed is the problem I am addressing. We are too concerned with entitlement and hurting feelings. Our true love of each other in the community comes from the respect that comes from lovingly, humbly but firmly bringing truth into each other’s lives.
    But, those who lead are more responsible to do these things. Owed anything? More judgment.

  48. Do leaders have more responsibility before Jesus than their fellow Christians? That really is the question, Bill. Those who teach, indeed. But, for the sake of the main point of this post, that really does not matter. The idea that we coddle each other as believers rather than calling each other to deeper things indeed is the problem I am addressing. We are too concerned with entitlement and hurting feelings. Our true love of each other in the community comes from the respect that comes from lovingly, humbly but firmly bringing truth into each other’s lives.
    But, those who lead are more responsible to do these things. Owed anything? More judgment.

  49. Rob, you missed my point, I think. Here is what SHOULD have been bolded, but was dwarfed by the sentence before it:
    “Sometimes I have to respect an individual’s needs before I think of their happiness. “

    This is the path to real leadership. This is the way to earn the respect and it takes courage, risk and faith. Once I take care of my child’s needs, then I can work on them being happy.

  50. Rob, you missed my point, I think. Here is what SHOULD have been bolded, but was dwarfed by the sentence before it:
    “Sometimes I have to respect an individual’s needs before I think of their happiness. “

    This is the path to real leadership. This is the way to earn the respect and it takes courage, risk and faith. Once I take care of my child’s needs, then I can work on them being happy.

  51. Rob, you missed my point, I think. Here is what SHOULD have been bolded, but was dwarfed by the sentence before it:
    “Sometimes I have to respect an individual’s needs before I think of their happiness. “

    This is the path to real leadership. This is the way to earn the respect and it takes courage, risk and faith. Once I take care of my child’s needs, then I can work on them being happy.

  52. Rob, you missed my point, I think. Here is what SHOULD have been bolded, but was dwarfed by the sentence before it:
    “Sometimes I have to respect an individual’s needs before I think of their happiness. “

    This is the path to real leadership. This is the way to earn the respect and it takes courage, risk and faith. Once I take care of my child’s needs, then I can work on them being happy.

  53. I don’t think I missed your point Rich.. I get what you are trying to say. I agree that allowing God to penetrate the deep messes in all of our lives is very, very important.. Most of us don’t do that with people. Saying hard things to people is part of being a leader… but the motive behind it was what I was getting at…and the timing… Not that your motives are wrong..
    The motive MUST be love ….and very importantly…must be the timing of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you can address things that are the truth, til your blue in the face, but it won’t be received.. 😉 That’s all I was saying.. Love ya and respect ya!!

  54. I don’t think I missed your point Rich.. I get what you are trying to say. I agree that allowing God to penetrate the deep messes in all of our lives is very, very important.. Most of us don’t do that with people. Saying hard things to people is part of being a leader… but the motive behind it was what I was getting at…and the timing… Not that your motives are wrong..
    The motive MUST be love ….and very importantly…must be the timing of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you can address things that are the truth, til your blue in the face, but it won’t be received.. 😉 That’s all I was saying.. Love ya and respect ya!!

  55. I don’t think I missed your point Rich.. I get what you are trying to say. I agree that allowing God to penetrate the deep messes in all of our lives is very, very important.. Most of us don’t do that with people. Saying hard things to people is part of being a leader… but the motive behind it was what I was getting at…and the timing… Not that your motives are wrong..
    The motive MUST be love ….and very importantly…must be the timing of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you can address things that are the truth, til your blue in the face, but it won’t be received.. 😉 That’s all I was saying.. Love ya and respect ya!!

  56. I don’t think I missed your point Rich.. I get what you are trying to say. I agree that allowing God to penetrate the deep messes in all of our lives is very, very important.. Most of us don’t do that with people. Saying hard things to people is part of being a leader… but the motive behind it was what I was getting at…and the timing… Not that your motives are wrong..
    The motive MUST be love ….and very importantly…must be the timing of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, you can address things that are the truth, til your blue in the face, but it won’t be received.. 😉 That’s all I was saying.. Love ya and respect ya!!

  57. I think a lot of these comment posted are what I call CPC, Church Politically Correct, I know what Rich is trying to say because I have lived it and been through the same. If someone can’t take constructive critisism then they can’t improve on what God has gifted them to do. Thin skin in any occupation is not good, we as leaders in the church have to “grow a pair” and through that we can move forward.
    I’m getting off track, but paying your dues is a load of dung, if that is the case then I have a butt load of love and respect. I’m still paying and have paid and will still pay dues, just because you are hired and put into a position that the church has put you in then a level of respect is already there because if it isn’t then you are bucking the leadership of your church and that is one of the biggest issues today in the church, not respecting the leaders, and it sounds like we have this a little bit here.

  58. I think a lot of these comment posted are what I call CPC, Church Politically Correct, I know what Rich is trying to say because I have lived it and been through the same. If someone can’t take constructive critisism then they can’t improve on what God has gifted them to do. Thin skin in any occupation is not good, we as leaders in the church have to “grow a pair” and through that we can move forward.
    I’m getting off track, but paying your dues is a load of dung, if that is the case then I have a butt load of love and respect. I’m still paying and have paid and will still pay dues, just because you are hired and put into a position that the church has put you in then a level of respect is already there because if it isn’t then you are bucking the leadership of your church and that is one of the biggest issues today in the church, not respecting the leaders, and it sounds like we have this a little bit here.

  59. I think a lot of these comment posted are what I call CPC, Church Politically Correct, I know what Rich is trying to say because I have lived it and been through the same. If someone can’t take constructive critisism then they can’t improve on what God has gifted them to do. Thin skin in any occupation is not good, we as leaders in the church have to “grow a pair” and through that we can move forward.
    I’m getting off track, but paying your dues is a load of dung, if that is the case then I have a butt load of love and respect. I’m still paying and have paid and will still pay dues, just because you are hired and put into a position that the church has put you in then a level of respect is already there because if it isn’t then you are bucking the leadership of your church and that is one of the biggest issues today in the church, not respecting the leaders, and it sounds like we have this a little bit here.

  60. I think a lot of these comment posted are what I call CPC, Church Politically Correct, I know what Rich is trying to say because I have lived it and been through the same. If someone can’t take constructive critisism then they can’t improve on what God has gifted them to do. Thin skin in any occupation is not good, we as leaders in the church have to “grow a pair” and through that we can move forward.
    I’m getting off track, but paying your dues is a load of dung, if that is the case then I have a butt load of love and respect. I’m still paying and have paid and will still pay dues, just because you are hired and put into a position that the church has put you in then a level of respect is already there because if it isn’t then you are bucking the leadership of your church and that is one of the biggest issues today in the church, not respecting the leaders, and it sounds like we have this a little bit here.

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