I was in a meeting the other day during which a staff person said that something “wasn’t fair.” While I contemplated the decision and their comment, I remembered a post I saw a very long time ago written by Tim Stevens.
In the post, he shared several thoughts …
- We aren’t fair about what gets promoted from the platform. Some ministries or events get priority.
- We aren’t fair about which events or ministries get facility space.
- Jesus wasn’t fair when he chose to spend most of his time with his 12 disciples. Furthermore, he wasn’t fair when he chose three disciples above the rest of them.
- As a leader, I’m not fair with my time. Some people can call and get time with me at a moment’s notice. Other people can’t. That’s not fair.
- We aren’t fair when we determine what gets in the budget and what doesn’t.
- I’m not fair with my influence. I focus a great deal of my influence on some people and none at all on other people.
- We aren’t fair with our compensation. Two people in the same position may not be paid the same. Two people who have been on staff the same length of time may not be paid the same. Two people with the same education and expertise may not be paid the same.
As a leader, I have occasionally had my decisions questioned as to whether or not they were “fair.” I usually think (to myself), “Who said life was fair?” or something like that but answer with a hopefully well-thought-out justification for the decision. The justification is almost always based on priority and rarely on fairness.
It’s not that we should ignore fairness and never consider it. On the contrary, I believe we should do our best to be fair when making decisions. It’s just that much of the time, focusing on the “highest priority” doesn’t line up with “fairness.” Regardless of how good the decision is, some part of it will be unfair to someone.
I think the key is in having credibility with those we lead. They will give us some slack and do their best to get on board with a decision, if only because they’ve done so in the past, and it has turned out to help the organization overall. After the fact, everyone can see that the decision was the right one, regardless of whether it seemed fair to everyone.