God bless you wherever this post finds you! Today I want to share a snippet from my reading. This semester I am to write two chapters of the dissertation (pray!). One aspect I plan to cover is toxic leadership and behaviors in the local church dynamic. Here is a short list from a book called Toxic Workplace! Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power by Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway (2009, p. 71, Jossey-Bass).
We discovered six primary ways in which an organization promotes toxicity:
- The structure changes to accommodate the toxic personality.
- The organization tolerates the toxicity, provided the individual is productive.
- The team climate changes when the toxic person is present.
- The organization’s leaders are unaware of the toxic person’s behavior.
- Less productive team meetings are tolerated.
- The organization contributes to the toxic person getting away with counterproductive behaviors.
Toxicity is a large part of my research, and the more I read the more I see obvious and subtle signs. Even in my bible reading, I now can identify more acute examples of toxic leadership and behavior. I want to share this list because we all know, knew, or felt the impact of a bully. Someone may come to mind whose behavior was the opposite of civil and acted only for personal benefit or gain or advantage.
Look at this list and substitute the words church, family, club, or group for the word organization. Do any of these statements describe your experience with toxicity?
If so, start to pray about the will of the Lord for you. Your solution may not be doctoral work (but if He calls you to research, then go with it!). Maybe the next part of your testimony is how you overcome toxicity on some level, in some way.
For once, I propose no solution. First, my research is still in process so I have no clear recommendation to offer. Second, our exposure to toxicity and the details of our experiences are too specific as to attempt a general prescription for relief.
Instead, I suggest some reflection time. Think seriously about toxicity… in us… in our families… in our workplaces and churches. Think about how we unknowingly support toxicity through silence, avoiding toxic people,
or other ways we respond.
Are we toxic? Is our presence a positive or negative influence?
Selah. Feel free to share any discoveries about toxicity in the comments.