I’ve earned, rightfully or not, the title of Push-back King within ChurchMag. It’s a natural orientation that I appreciate but also struggle with. People don’t naturally like others who push-back.
Notice, it’s not fun pushing back when there is much resistance.
Jesus was the ultimate at pushing back. He is my inspiration and role model. Whether it is him flipping tables, challenging Pharisees while writing in the sand, or asking God if there is no other way before going to the Cross that awaited Him. But He never settled. He wanted others to do their best, be there best.
And that is my heart. So I want to share with you what I believe is the best ways to push-back.
The Art of Push-back
1. Push back comes in many forms and you need to know your audience. To know your audience, you need to have a relationship with them. And to have to have trust. Push-back against strangers simply will not work. All they hear is a troll or a hater or an ignorant loud mouth.
2. Push-back is communicated through questions. You want to start a church website? Why? What do you hope it will give you? You want new presentation software and not sure what is available? I have many ideas, but let me first ask you, whats your budget, computer system, volunteer structure, and uses? We’re going to get mew MacBook Pros for our staff. Really? How are new Macs going to help you do ministry better? Why did you not consider Windows PCs? My goal with these questions is not to sway them one way or another, but t further the dialogue, go deeper into the thinking, and maybe find some shortcomings or blind-spots in their decisions.
3. Push-back requires courage. Everyone else is a yes man. People who are good at push-back can be the MVP in helping you identify holes in your plan, trim the fat of your mission, keep you on track with what you had stated you would accomplish, and help you strength your resolve. But in the process of push-back, you don’t experience that. It’s hard because you are challenging their beliefs, attitudes, and solutions. But if you are trying to further your organization, do you want them, or even yourself, standing in th way of progress and success? Don’t be mean, but be firm and courageous.
4. Push-back expects intelligence. You have to first understand what you believe but then you also need to know where they are coming from. A good debater can article their point. A great debater can argue both.
5. Push-back is only built on facts. Opinions here are your worst enemy, because then it just becomes a power game. Without facts, it’s a I’m smarter than you, my ideas are better, and you are an idiot kind of discussion. Push-back with facts let the facts speak for themselves.
6. Push-back needs compassion. You are challenging someone’s idea for the greater good of the mission or vision. In this time, people feel vulnerable. Why wouldn’t they be. To them, it isn’t just their idea, it’s their legacy, their baby, their entire identity (at least in this moment). They may not like your push-back and you have to be smart about them, about the situation, and about what you are trying to communicate.
7. Push-back should not be personal for you. The topic you are pushing back on or those you push-back against may be personal, but divorce yourself from anger or fear when you push-back. Otherwise it is about what they think about you, a very selfish concept, instead of what is best for all of us, something very selfless.
8. Push-back is not about winning nor about proving a point. We want to push-back because “they” are wrong. But inherently there is an assumption in them being wrong. We assume we know all of the facts and their goals and motivations are perfectly align with ours. But we don’t, do we? So our push-back where we need to correct and fix, is really more unsolicited advise, and I hate that. Don’t do that.
9. Push-back feels like a curse. Challenging the status quo, taking risk where everyone wants to play it safe, and requiring the need to do the hard, timely research is never a fun decision. But it may be the right one. But no one wins a popularity contest being right.
10. Push-back may be exactly what your team is missing. Do you feel like your team is stagnant? Are you stuck? Do you think their is untapped potential or areas for growth and improvement? Sounds like a push-back position needs to be created.
What quality did I miss in a good push-back artist?
Do you agree with my emphasis on needing a person who pushes back?