Don’t Spiritualize Your Management Problems, Fix Them


A lot of bad decisions get blamed on God. In my years of consulting, I have run into poorly managed organizations with broken systems, ineffective workers, and bad strategies. All of them can be fixed. Well almost. There’s the spiritual trump card that stops any effort cold: “I feel God wants me to do it this way,” or “God has not released me to do that.”

spiritualize management problems

While I understand that sometimes God calls us to do the impossible, to pursue goals and dreams that most people will never understand, I believe that God gets blamed for people’s fears, insecurities, and downright incompetence. Really.

Borrowing more money than you should, hiring the wrong person for the job, mismanaging people, failing to do due diligence on a deal, are not spiritual issues. They are management and leadership problems.

We don’t need to pray about firing an employee who has stolen from the organization, but leaders often agonize about letting people go who don’t perform, are not loyal, and who steal from the ministry by constantly robbing everyone by their lack of contribution or negative attitude. There’s a big difference between being ruthless and uncaring and being passive, fearful or disengaged.

There’s a misguided martyred syndrome that religious leaders tend fall prey of in order to hide the their lack of management and leadership skills. Sometimes I want to say: I hate to break it to you, but it’s not God allowing Satan to test you. This is your mess. Own up to it and let’s fix it.

Have you ever seen management problems spiritualized? What happened?


  • Thank you for this post. Working in a corporate environment I’ve often wondered about the lack of best practices in the daily operations of churches and faith-based nonprofits. In fact I’m very interested in what your firm does to consult for churches as a potential career.

    • Maurilio

      Churches do a great job managing a volunteer organization. Sometimes it’s the business processes that give them trouble. We need to connect and talk about it.

      • That’s a good point. Would love the opportunity to connect and discuss.

  • Unfortunately this is very common and it really get on my nerves! Thx for sharing your perspective.

    • Maurilio

      Glad you stopped by.

  • I lead a Christian nonprofit for thirteen years. From experience, the best way to lose support and respect as a leader is to keep someone on the team that shouldn’t be there. Passive indecision is fatal for a leader.

  • When I served on the board of my former church during the year between pastors, there was a LOT of mismanagement going on that was blamed on spiritual matters. Everything from Satan trying to bring us down to God trying to shake the church and get rid of the people who would hinder us (seriously?!). It really all came down to the others on the board didn’t want to do their jobs or wanted to push the church in a new direction. It was nuts. One of the main reasons it is my former church.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant post. But it sure is a whole lot easier to play the God, or martyr, card instead of taking a harsh look at yourself and fixing your own leadership errors.

    • It’s easier in the short term but it has huge consequences in the long run.

  • Cliffcapehart

    So why don’t you speak the truth?  🙂  I believe this is one major category especially in the church arena that is causing people t get fed up and leave the church.  Lifeway Research did a pole about a year and a half ago that stated 1 million people are leaving the church annually.  They are not leaving God, they are just tired of the way church leaders are operating.  Having been in full-time ministry for the past 18 years I can not begin to tell  you how tired I am of seeing senior pastors misuse their titles and then blame there narcissism on the enemy or God.  What is even more outrageous to me is that intelligent men and women sit in the audience and allow it to happen.  

    • Most church members are not aware of the business dynamics inside of a church, specially if it’s a large one.

  • God told me that He would bless this blog post because it’s the best. Best blog post. From any and every blog. Thus saith the Lord.

    Unfortunately Christians are too susceptible to using this technique, and when it’s employed it shuts down the conversation. Leaders have to remember that when presenting ideas and problems. Everyone has to remember that when asking for advice.

    If God said it, then it becomes really hard to argue against it.

    • You have definitely heard from God. Thank you for being an conduit of the truth! 🙂

  • Pingback: Don’t spiritualize your management problems: Fix them! | HeadHeartHand Blog()

  • Gem Hunter

    This is tragically a “too often” problem. I noticed you only identified the problem and did not offer a practical way to address it??

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