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7 Steps to Surviving Sabotage

Almost every congregation is in desperate need of stronger leadership (individual and shared) to help them be vibrant communities of faith that can take on their toughest challenges.

Most churches never thought that leadership development for their pastor(s) and others might be their most under resourced aspect of ministry!

Last week’s Surviving Sabotage pointed the finger at the two grand saboteurs of most effective “take on our toughest challenges” leadership:

  1. The status quo…“just take me back to yesterday even though our ministry desperately needs to change”…saboteurs.
  2. Ourselves… Too many leaders sabotage themselves! As a result, we lose the trust, respect and confidence of our people.

What to do?

Ourselves as saboteurs? Capture the 9 behaviors from last week. Add what you think is missing. Evaluate on a scale of 1-10. What are you doing well? Celebrate! Where do you need to grow? Include the person, board or group that you are or want to be accountable to. Make a plan every three months. Go to work. You’ll be surprised.

Now, the not so easy status quo… “just take me back to what used to be a blessing to many of us yesterday” …saboteurs.

I asked Gail as she works with leaders what steps she would recommend in surviving sabotage. Here are her 7 steps for surviving sabotage.

7 Steps to Surviving Sabotage

So, a final thought. Most everyone knows that most millennials are gone in most congregations. It’s the greatest common challenge threatening our congregational futures. In our pasts, it’s the type of missionary challenge where we would have sacrificed everything to send missionary leaders to reach a people group of this magnitude. In spite of would be saboteurs! It will require the best of your leadership if we’re going to take on this missionary challenge together.


  1. What action do you need to take?
  2. Who do you need to include?
  3. When do you want to start?

Jock Ficken
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken


3 Responses

  1. Lorhetta Lawrence says:

    Thanks, Reverend Ficken. This article is of great encouragement to me on my job as I face sabotage from a few team members.

  2. Jim Otte says:

    Great advice in the 7 steps. To build on them…
    #1. Exercise strong pastoral care to those who challenge you. This demonstrates a love, which looks beyond the current disagreement.
    #3. Listening to understand means putting on hold the instinct of listening to “fix” the other person. “Fixing” sends the message that the other person is wrong. This triggers a wall going up – and valuing going down.
    #7. Proactively practice scenario training with your leaders. Include: “How do we want to handle this respectfully, when the sabotage comes?” “How do we not allow the sabotage to erode the trust between pastor and leadership?”
    Great Stuff, Gail. Blessings!

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