The Civil War – Pragmatists vs. Idealists

The leaders of most local churches generally are influenced by either pragmatism or idealism when making decisions and leading their congregations. Leaders who are pragmatists tend to assess situations and solve problems in a practical, matter-of-fact way. Idealists tend to be moved by all the possibilities, while pragmatists immediately see the limitations.

The truth is we need both influences in our churches. The problem is when one or the other dominates the church leadership culture. When the pragmatists are in charge, budgets are met, schedules are kept, and things tend to be predictable. When idealism dominates, songs are written, music is created and creative energies are released in full measure.

When the pragmatists are in charge, the creative community flees to more open waters or simply shuts down and concedes to the system. When the idealists are in charge, much is done, but sometimes very little is accomplished.

There has been a long civil war between these two groups. Pragmatists want order, the same order that can stifle the soul of the dreaming idealist. The idealist is wired to be spontaneous and often impulsive, which drives the pragmatist to the brink of insanity.

There is no way to really help either side understand the other completely. What we must agree upon is our need for one another. Idealists need boundaries in which to run, much like a race horse needs rails to guide them in the race and a finish line to know when to stop running. Pragmatists need the idealists to shock their system out of lifeless routines and to teach them to say yes more than no.

Who is in charge and creating the culture where you live and work? Have all you pragmatists learned to appreciate the messiness of the idealists and have all you idealists learned the value of predictable processes and the safety of systems?


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4 Comments

  1. So true! And this is where leadership in every church should have the awareness and responsibility to hire/utilize people of different strengths so that the full picture can be presented and balance can be achieved…or at least pursued. Do the idealists usually pal around with pragmatists? Not really.Well, maybe in marriages! But typically birds of a feather flock together. Churches too easily become cliques and denominations are born out of methodologies. As Christ’s Church comes into maturity, I believe we’ll see greater respect for the gifts in each other – and in other denominations, so that the Body of Christ can truly reflect the Head of the Church to the world around us. To GOD be ALL the glory!! Praise God that we are all uniquely made to serve Him and we all have a place in His Kingdom.

  2. Almost a question of Christology…

  3. Interesting discussion with Budget meetings tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing both at work.

  4. Who is in charge and creating the culture where you live and work? Have all you pragmatists learned to appreciate the messiness of the idealists and have all you idealists learned the value of predictable processes and the safety of systems?

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