Leading in the Midst of “Hell Raisers” – Nu Leadership Series

“Well most people feel the negative side because they are negative.”
Sun Ra

Everyone knows it’s easy to lead “nice people.” How does a leader deal with difficult people? I struggle in this area. I’m the youngest deacon at my church. Miller, author of the Empowered Leader, explains that difficult people are those who stand between you and your objectives. Have you ever worked in an organization full of difficult people? It isn’t a pleasing thought, is it?

Let’s review a “real world” application. My pastor, a young man of 40+ years old, has a determined spirit that is focused on outreach ministry. Although my church is progressive for the local area, the members are relatively conservative. This situation creates generational conflicts anywhere; however, my pastor routinely engages some negative members. Mill argues that there are generally congenitally belligerents in any key leadership role. Well, I call them “Hell-Raisers.” They love a good fight and rarely do they avoid one. I try to encourage our pastor that these situations are part of carrying his cross. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes, “…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

Consequentially, a leader should try to be a peacemaker, if possible. From my personal experience, it’s hard being a peacemaker with Hell Raisers. Why would I make this statement? Some people view an unwillingness to engage them in a fight as a character weakness. Likewise, Hell Raisers can be in your organization. What are you going to do? Winston, an author and professor, maintains that an effective leader must be the person who builds and sustains harmony in the organization. Many people hate change. Some people are closed-minded. When corrosive situations come up, I am usually caught in the middle. It can be a war zone at times. I shutter to think one day I will need to lead an organization with belligerents. Is it possible to effectively lead a merry band of congenitally belligerents? That’s a wicked thought. Leaders need to take control of this situation or give the Hell Raisers the day off.


Miller, C. (1995). The Empowered Leader. United States of America: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Winston, B. (2002). Be A Leader for God’s Sake. Virginia Beach, VA. Regent University.