70% Of Employees Hate Their Job (How To Become A Leader Worth Following)

Being a boss is difficult. Having a boss is even more difficult.

The church world complicates this dynamic even more.

A lot of lead pastors went to seminary and have the tools necessary to preach, but haven’t been equipped to lead. Some pastors don’t even want to lead. They want to preach every week. That complicates things.

Add to that when your boss is also your pastor it complicates thing. Even the best boss has to make hard decisions. When someone doesn’t like a decision of a boss and that boss is their pastor it will impact their ability to hear from God during the pastor’s sermon.

As church leaders we have to wrestle with this.

Even if you are not the senior leader of your church, you have to wrestle with this. You lead someone. Even if it’s volunteers.

According to a Gallup poll, “75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself.”

Add to that, according to a Gallup poll, 70% of employees hate their job or are disengaged with their work.

That’s alarming!

Following the leader was way easier when it was a children’s game. As adults following a leader is incredibly challenging.

I think we need to wrestle with this.

Why are bosses so difficult to work for? Why are leaders so hard to follow?

Think about this through the lens of your volunteers. Do they love volunteering for you? Why or why not? If people are constantly rotating off volunteer teams it can point to this same issue. People tend to leave volunteer teams because of the team leader and not because of the position itself.

Before we get to some answers let’s wrestle with why it is so hard to follow a leader.

3 Reasons Why Following A Leader Is So Difficult

  1. Bad leadership. There are bad leaders out there. Leadership is difficult, and it takes a special person to lead well. Leadership is not about a title, it’s about who is following. If no one is following then you aren’t an effective leader. Not caring about the people who work for you, treating them poorly, and avoidance of making tough decisions are signs of poor leadership.
  2. Bad followers. I’m convinced lot of the 70% of people who are unhappy with their job are unhappy because a leader is doing things differently than they would. Leaders have to make decisions, and it’s impossible to have everyone like every decision. So much of our anger and frustration comes from a person not doing things the way we would. That’s selfish and really bad followership.
  3. A holy discontent. This is one of the most difficult things to peg down. A holy discontent comes from a calling to do something different. We have in our minds that we will pick a job and then stay there forever. That’s the utopian thought. The truth of the matter is as we age we change. Think about the answer you gave as a kid to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of us aren’t what we thought we wanted to be as a kid. How many people chose a major in college and then chose a career that was different? Starting a job doesn’t mean you will always be called to that job. Sometimes your passion changes. You need to be aware of this. This applies to volunteers as well. Sometimes someone feels led to leave but out of obligation, fear, or for the simple fact that it’s easier to stay they stick around in a position that God has called them to leave. When this happens they develop a holy discontent. If that discontent is not acted on it becomes a unholy disfunction. When someone stays after God is leading them to go it will lead to negativity.

If you are among the 70% that hate your job here are some things to think about.

  1. Should you fire Your boss? If you are truly under a bad leader you need to fire them from your life. Now, you may not have authority to fire them from the company, but you do have a choice where you work. If you are under the leadership of a truly bad leader then you are foolish to stay. Just make sure that you have worked hard at your next step. Do some research about what type of boss you want to work for. One of the worst things you can do is change a job to go to another bad job. But if you continue to find one bad leader after the next you need to look inward. I recommend reading Quiter by Jon Acuff before you make a move
  2. Should you become an amazing follower? I love the insight Jimmy Collins shares in his book, Creative Followership. Collins writes, “Do you desire a satisfying career with opportunities for advancement in the future? The first step is to identify what the boss does not like to do. The second step is to find a way to do what the boss does not like to do, and exceed expectations. you will learn a lot about people, and a lot about yourself, in the process.” He goes on to write, “A follower is someone who has chosen a leader.” Instead of picking job pick a boss. Find someone that you can follow. Take the vision they have and make it better. This doesn’t mean that the boss is perfect, but way too many employees would fire themselves if they were their own boss. If you were your own boss would you be fired? Does your effort match your expectation for a boss? Click To Tweet Translation, we want amazing bosses that do everything, but we often put in little effort, complain, and fail to do tasks with excellence. If you don’t have a vision for a company, a product, or even a church then find a leader worth following and do it with amazing excellence. You will be happier, and go further behind a leader with a vision than you will on your own. Not everyone can lead. If everyone did lead we would all be going in different directions. I recommend reading Creative Followership by Jimmy Collins.
  3. Should you find out what God is stirring in you? When I was in high school I took a paid internship at my dream church. After 2 years they let me know that they weren’t going to fire me but I would never become anything more than an intern there. I ended up leaving. I went to college. I grew up…A LOT. Two years later I was offered a full time staff position back at this church. I had arrived. In my mind I was going to retire at this church. But something happened. God placed a holy discontent in my heart. The discontent was to do church differently. Now, if you are not careful when this discontent comes you will start to criticize the place you are at. A holy discontent is hard to peg down because it often starts with questions. Questions about your place in the organization. Questions about the mission of the organization. Way too often a person is afraid to make a change and the holy discontent turns into unholy disfunction. When you hear an employee attacking a good vision it’s time for that employee to move on. If the vision isn’t sinful, and the leader is a good leader then don’t you dare attack the vision. It very well could be that God is stirring something different in your soul. And that’s okay. Different doesn’t mean better. To do something different doesn’t mean the place you are at is bad. It’s just different. If you don’t figure this out you will end up resenting a good leader and a good job. The problem at this point isn’t the job, it’s the fact that you are living outside of your calling. I recommend reading Visioneering by Andy Stanley.

At the end of the day being a leader is incredibly difficult. But so is being a follower. It’s tough to help accomplish someone else’s vision. For the Christian you are called to a higher standard. You are not to be among the 70% that hate their job. You are to work at your job as unto the Lord. You may have to change jobs, or positions, or bosses, but you need to honor the authority God has placed in your life. After all no one is forcing you to work at your job.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

How To Become A Leader Worth Following (2 Things To Start And One Thing To Stop)

1. Start With A Vision Worth Following.

This is not easy. I jumped into the church world just wanting to preach. People would ask me where are we going and my thought was…”Straight to Heaven!”

For some reason that never gave them what they were looking for.

In order for people to follow they must know where they are going. If you don’t know where you are going then don’t expect others to follow.

For some ideas on vision and mission click here.

2. Start To Lead Yourself Better.

There is a temptation to blame others for the lack of success you have.

It’s difficult to lead people, but it’s even more difficult to lead oneself.

You don’t become a great leader on accident. It’s happens intentionally.

Great leaders happen intentionally, not accidentally.

Great leaders happen intentionally, not accidentally. Click To Tweet

Everyone has advice. What inspires people are courageous people who do something with the knowledge they know. If you want better followers start by leading yourself better.

I know you have a million excuses as to why you don’t have time, but a great leaders turn excuses into problems to solve.

What books do you need to read?

Do you need a ministry coach? My life was forever changed because of my partnership with Chris Sonksen and ChurchBOOM.

Become a leader worth following and you’ll see a major difference in the people that follow.

3. Stop Hiring Good People.

A few years ago I wrongly assumed that I could work with anyone. Wrong!

There are certain personality traits, and behaviors that will work great with me.

If you don’t know what those are for you, chances are you’ll hire good people that aren’t a great fit for your church.

What does it take to get the job done under your leadership?

I need people that are coachable, hungry to learn, problem solvers, and are relationally driven. If you are the type that just wants to get work done without having a relationship then you are not a good fit for me. That doesn’t make that person bad. Just bad for me. In return I would be bad for them.

There is a place for every personality trait in some organization somewhere. But for you there has to some key things that will or will not work.

I recently asked a manager at Chick-fil-A how they hire such quality people.

He said, “We are relentless in only hiring the right people.”

He went on to explain that if finds someone who can only work two shifts but fits their culture he will hire them over someone else who can work 5 days a week but doesn’t fit the culture.

Other fast food restaurants will hire anyone with a pulse. It now makes sense why Chick-fil-A gets the results that it does.


What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you.

Where do you think you line up when it comes to following a leader?

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