For some reason, we're fascinated with train wrecks. In sports, no train wreck has captured our attention more in the last year than the Ball family. Just in case you've been in a cave, the Ball family is headed by outspoken (understatement) dad Lavar, and sons Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo. The best way I've described them is "The Kardashians of basketball."
It'd be too long to list everything that Lavar has said, but to list his "Top 5":
1. He could have beaten Michael Jordan 1-on-1
2. He admonished a female journalist to "stay in her lane" when questioned about his previous sexist comments
3. He pulled his AAU team off the floor over a female referee and refused to play again until she was removed
4. He demanded a $1 billion shoe deal for Lonzo before he was drafted
5. He claimed his 18 year old son was better than Steph Curry ever could dream of being
The most recent headline was his ongoing critique of the Lakers and their coach. To Walton's credit, he's remained above the circus around him and his team. And Lonzo, the rookie point guard for the Lakers, seems to have his head on straight and is focused on basketball. But we can't miss the disruption and enabling of a constant problem that won't go away.
When leaders enable, they create a dysfunctional and chaotic environment. When it happens in the church, we see decisions, ministries, and leadership roles filled by those who lack the biblical and character qualifications to lead. So it's imperative for those called to lead in the church to lead well and to stop enabling.
Enabling allows bullies to reign - One of the most difficult times in ministry for me was when I had a church bully after me. In fact he made it clear to his circle of friends (and to anyone who'd listen) that his reason for being on the personnel team was to have me fired. At a number of points, someone could have done something. But no one did, even though his intentions were known. By God's grace, he didn't get his wish, and he left mad to another church where the same problems are happening.
Enabling defaults to the squeaky wheel - The reason why people continue to cover Lavar Ball is that he keeps having a microphone put in his face. Much like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, the way to fix enabling is to simply ignore. When leaders focus on the squeaky wheel, they're diverting time and energy and attention away from their calling and their leadership.
Enabling leads to an endless cycle of appeasement - One of the most important lessons you can learn in leadership is that you can't please everyone. Appeasement is where a leader tries to keep everyone happy, but in the end can't keep anyone happy. Conflict isn't resolved. Necessary changes aren't made. People's feelings, rather than clear vision, becomes the driving force for action.
Enabling is distracting - You can never focus on what God has called you to as a leader when you or others are enabling malcontents. It's killing cockroaches. Every time you stomp on one, two more show up. And so you spend all your time distracted, focusing on stuff that doesn't matter and ignoring matters of eternity.
Enabling opens patterns of sinful behavior - Whenever we enable people, we're letting them know that they can get what they want how they want. Because there's no checks, no boundaries, no accountability, and no one stopping it, there's no backbone to stop bad behavior. Last night I read an article about a Christian college who fired a journalist for exposing a pattern of enabling. A prominent trustee, who was a nationally known author, was known to have a gambling problem. In response, the college chose to remove gambling as a barrier for serving. Instead of holding to convictions, the school enabled and opened a door for sinful behavior to be condoned.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.