Why Leaders Walk Towards Barking Dogs

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You’ve just found out that petty arguments might be brewing among staff in your youth department.

What do you do?

You’ve noticed that weekly giving is slipping below projections.

What do you do?

You’ve picked up on the news that your board is spending a lot of time discussing matters that really don’t further the direction of the church.

What do you do?

Barking DogIf you’re a leader, you walk towards the barking dog.

I learned this axiom at a seminar I recently attended, and it has painted for me a vivid mental picture as to how leaders must respond at the first signs of trouble.

The expression, I’m told, comes from training postal letter carriers receive concerning what to do when a barking dog appears.

The instinct is to move (or run) away quickly. Instead, so the training apparently goes, sometimes the best move is to walk firmly towards the barking dog. Often this will cause the aggressive dog to ‘pull in his fangs’ and walk away.

Each of the scenarios I’ve painted above (and you can fill in the blanks with dozens of your own) are faced by church leaders every day. Each may, or may not, represent a real problem. In other words, each is like a barking dog. As a leader you can ignore it, inviting the possibility that the barking dog could become a biting dog.

Or you can walk towards it. You can move aggressively towards the issue and deal with it before it becomes a major problem.

As I sat in that seminar here are the three notes I gave myself. Perhaps these can be incorporated into your own leadership skill-set.

1. Develop listening ear for the sound of barking dogs in my world.

2. Develop the discipline to resist the instinct to walk away from these dogs.

3. Develop the courage to move firmly towards the barking dogs.

What are the barking dogs you can hear these days?

How do you avoid the natural tendency to walk away?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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