Some years ago, through my roles as a parent, a pastor, and occasionally, as a work place boss, I discovered that there are two ways to move people. You can oppress them; or, you can inspire them.
Eventually, I began to notice the distinct differences between these two methods. I began to see that when I chose the former method, there were no lasting results and morale was always in the basement.
Granted, oppression (or authoritarianism) is typically the shortest path to a given behavioral end. But it is also the most antagonistic, and thus, the most resented method.
So, as soon as the autocratic “hammer” is subtracted from the picture, people simply revert to what they wanted to do or be in the first place. Thus, the use of oppression comes to this: “No present hammer, no present result.”
On the other hand, if you choose Inspiration to move people, though it usually is a longer and more draining way, this method of motivation actually changes the level of peoples aspirations. Thus, inspiration produces enduring motivation, even when the authority figure is subtracted from the picture. So, inspiration eventually comes to this: “No present hammer, no real problem.”
My deep regret is that I did not understand these differences and embrace the Inspirational Method of motivating people much earlier in my life. Had I done so, I could have been a much better parent and made the childhood of my older children a happier existence.
And, I am convinced that I would have alienated fewer people (and truly changed more) in the churches that I pastored. And, I would have been a much more effective boss at work. But sadly, I was just too slow on the uptake.
So, I simply offer this to spare others the same mistake. Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! as often as you possible can with the people who look to you for direction. Real and worthy authority is never endangered by seasonal humor. It is only enhanced by it.
Don’t take yourself and the minor issues so completely seriously. In spite of what you may think, you are not really that critical to the process. Life went successfully on, long before you directed it. And, it will take little note that you are missing when that day comes. So, get over yourself.
And remember, the minor issues are just that. They are not the major issues, so quit turning them into such. Excuse everything you possibly can. The little stuff is just the day dust which gives everybody a mostly harmless way to remember the human frailty, learn from it, and grow beyond its present limitations.
If perfection is your rigid demand, you better go ahead and drag out a tall stack of cryin’ towels – 'cause perfection ain’t happnin,’ Honey. Reasonable consistency is about the best you can hope for - and even that, only at the end of a long line of, “Oops.”
So, you have a choice mom or dad, pastor, or Mr. VP, etc. You can choose to puff up, and rant and rave, and belittle and berate the people around you. Or, you can choose to inspire them by wielding your authority with laughter, and forgiveness, and wisdom, and the shared life tricks that you, yourself, have previously learned.
Your choice. But, know this: the traffic on the shorter path never really varies. The "bosses" who travel that oppressive pathway, always just come off as really small devils in oversized chairs.