What tips do you have for dealing with bad leaders that you inherit in a new pastorate?

  1. Pray.  Pray for wisdom. Pray for humility. Pray for unity between you and your church’s other leaders. Pray that God would work in their hearts.
  2. Preach the Bible. All genuine change in a church comes as God works through his Word. Pray that God would use your teaching of his Word to change the hearts of your leaders.
  3. Work with those you can. Encourage and disciple those leaders who love God and his Word. Entrust as much ministry to them as possible.
  4. Be honest and discreet. Don’t gossip about people, but be willing to humbly yet directly confront them, perhaps with a trusted leader at your side. 
  5. Take the long view. God is patient, and our timetable doesn’t always match his. Realize that you may plant and another can water—and it’s always God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7).
  6. Remember that the people belong to God. You may refer to your people as “my church,” but they ultimately belong to God. So commit them to God in prayer and trust that he will work all things together for their good (Rom. 8:28).
  7. Trust in God. If God holds the hearts of kings in his hand (Prov. 21:1), he is able to do whatever he wants with ornery church leaders.  
  8. Learn from experience. If you experience difficulties now, they should make you wiser for the future.

(This material has been adapted from Ken Swetland’s article, “8 Steps for Dealing with Difficult Leaders”)