Leadership is filled with problems where getting a different perspective could be helpful. After all there is wisdom in getting outside counsel says the Proverbs of Solomon. But where do we cross a line with sharing a challenge with another person that becomes gossip or other harmful speech?
Here are some questions and principles for leaders to consider before seeking advice:
1) What is my level of responsibility, given to me by God, in this situation? Does this problem really fall within my circle of responsibility? If so is it part of God’s assignment, my stewardship and contribution, to take action. Or — is it outside of my circle of my contribution but is within my circle of influence?
Perhaps the responsibility for implementing a response and solution is held by someone else or a group of leaders but they have invited me to offer my perspective and possible solutions. I may not have authority to act but God may have given me a “voice” of influence. OR — is the situation outside of my direct contribution or my indirect influence and resides within my circle of concern?
I am not sure why God allows me to see a glimpse of problems and challenges that I have little or no ability to impact. My guess is it is His call to me to pray and watch. Before I start telling others about what I see I need to begin with determining where God has placed ME in relationship to the problem and others involved.
2) Have I established a clear understanding for why I am sharing this information with the person I am approaching? In other words, what is my expectation for how they can assist me? Am I seeking clarity from someone with greater experience in these types of problems? Am I seeking support and prayer support for courage to do the right thing? Am I seeking perspective to resolve my confusion? All of these may be appropriate.
BUT — If I am seeking to unload my responsibility on another person and walk away clean; STOP! Or, if I am seeking to gather their vote and support for my cause to defeat my opposition and create division I am on dangerous ground. If I tend to frame the problem in language of “US” against “THEM” that is a good indication I am standing in the wrong place. If I am just emotionally venting I may be making the situation worse.
3) With a spouse or special friend I may just need a hug and a reminder of encouragement that God will help me. That can be very helpful if the person I am sharing with understands the contribution I need. Usually I do not need to rehearse all of the history, details or attack others in my seeking some emotional care. Those details only confuse what I am asking the person to provide.
Perhaps this axiom from Robertson McQuilkin is a helpful summary of what I have tried to frame in the three questions. “When responding to a problem seek SOLUTIONS and not VICTORIES.”