Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective? That is a critical choice for many of us as ministry leaders. 

be right or be effective?

Being right ≠ being effective

When I find myself in this position, a question I ask myself is this: “What do I gain by insisting on being right? What’s at stake? Is it really consequential?” For example, if you’re dealing with an engineering problem, being right is a matter of safety. It’s important. In relationships, it can also be important, but we also need to ask ourselves if it’s really worth it. I’ve come to realize that I don’t always need to correct everybody. Sometimes by trying to insist on the rightness of my own perspective, I can unnecessarily hurt people or damage relationships. Even if I am actually right about the issue at hand.

The cost of being “right”

Being right can be important. But it’s also very important how we go about that relationally. How far do we want to push it? Our insistence on being right can really damage others. So when you are in this position, consider: Why are you trying to be right? What’s at stake in you? Why not let others have a different perspective? 

Let me be clear: truth is important. Yet in how we respond to others relationally, we should also take into account the risk/reward benefit. How will it help matters for you to insist on being right? Consider how to practice no-fault relationships. Consider how relationships might be different from engineering. Consider how to be full of both grace and truth.

The social media trap

We all have opinions and positions, and today we often turn to social media to espouse our views. We proclaim our rightness—yet even if we are actually right, our tone is often not right. It doesn’t lead to greater understanding, but greater alienation and greater polarization. And in so doing, we are not demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In this polarized world, as you write for social media, try sitting on it for 24 hours before publishing. Then ask yourself the question before pressing submit: Is this truly helpful? Because even if something is right, it may not be helpful. It may not be kind. It may not build people up. It may not promote peace. Consider what you are trying to accomplish.


Grow your listening skills–  If being “right” is getting in the way of your effectiveness, this is a solid place to start. Gaining greater awareness of others is a key factor in measuring your effectiveness as a leader. This series of resources helps you to identify your listening strengths and helps you grow in areas that could use further development. Start with the Listening Effectiveness Profile, the work through the Effective Listening Skills Builder on your own or better yet, with a coach. Coaches, the Effective Listening Coaching Guide and Storyboard are a powerful resource.

Effective Leadership Coaching Guide– If you are leading a ministry, its important to regularly reassess and hone your leadership skills. This storyboard and Coaching Guide walks you through the key characteristics required for effective leadership. Better yet, walk through this process with your coach!

Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash