I think for any of us in leadership it is a constant challenge to remember that we have people under us who need our attention. Since many of us tend to be that type A personality we can become like robots at points, and neglect those around us. However Finzel points out that, “Leaders have to learn to manage the paper flow to stay in touch with their people.” (Finzel 2007, 58) I once heard a pastor in my local church refer to the same struggles you are having, he was telling the story of how he had so much work to be done and a gentleman really wanted to talk with him, while all he wanted to do was brush him off. However, he spent some time talking with this man and got his work accomplished; and then realized this is one of the reasons he is where he is. To begin with, he has a duty to help people, not push papers around all day. In the end he still accomplished his entire workload for the day by quitting time. It would seem to me that my pastor learned this truth that day, “For the Christian leader, his or her greatest impact will be lives changed through personal influence on followers.” (Finzel 2007, 52)
Also if you feel like you are struggling to know your people, what are you doing to get to know them? Are you having regular team/staff meetings where people can voice their feelings and opinions? Something else we need to pay attention to is that if you have more than one person in leadership, “…those who provide ministerial leadership will desire closer relationships with one another as a means of becoming more effective in their work.” (Powers 2008, 277) Sometimes you might feel like you have to take care of everything and you might need to point out the need of delegation, but remember; “Ministry that is united in effort and objective but divided in responsibility is to be expected.” (Powers 2008, 280)
After awhile you may start to feel like things are moving like a well oiled machine, and you are able to focus more on logistical nature of things. But try to make sure you take some time out each day to let the people you work with know what they mean to you. Because as Finzel tells us, “Oftentimes, we have no idea how much those little pats on the back mean to those around us.” (Finzel 2007, 64) Through everything once we understand that both paperwork and peoplework have their proper place in our work, we can put the emphasis where it needs to be at the time. Our people can lighten our load when they know that we appreciate them, “If you are the kind of leader that lets people know how they are doing, they will follow you anywhere.” (Finzel 2007, 71) And that kind of dedication will make more impact than any amount of paperwork ever will.
Finzel, Hans. The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2007.
Powers, Bruce P. Church Administration Handbook. Nashville : B&H Publishers, 2008.