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Talking to Americans
Canadians and Americans have different ways of leading, and struggle in the same areas.

I am bilingual. I speak American and Canadian. More than half my year I mentor Christian leaders in the United States. I'm often asked if I notice differences between Canadian and American Christian leaders. The answer is, yes.

Canadian leaders … Are skeptical of most models and leaders from the United States.

Canadian leaders

  • Are better at networking.

  • Are more concerned about the impact of ministry on the family.

  • Are more respectful of timetables, deadlines and protocol.

  • Are more open to crossing denominational boundaries for the Kingdom's sake.

  • Are more globally minded and have a greater grasp of multiculturalism.

  • Are less inclined to be Lone Rangers.

  • Are more "sombre" about their ministries.

  • Carry more weight as leaders—there are fewer Christian leaders in Canada.

  • Are regional in their outlook—east to west.

  • Are multi-gifted GPs, whereas Americans are Specialists.

  • Are more comfortable with technology.

  • Are more skeptical of ready-made programs.

  • Are conciliatory to a fault.

  • Are more willing to throw themselves into brand new strategies.

  • Are slower to include women in leadership.

  • Are skeptical of most models and leaders from the United States.

American leaders … Are fascinated and confused by Canadian models and leaders.

American leaders

  • Open up and share more readily with one another.

  • Enjoy lots of fun in their ministries.

  • Are much more open in expressing their opinions.

  • Are regional in their outlook—north to south.

  • Are more optimistic.

  • Can become absorbed with the concept, allowing it to overshadow purpose at times.

  • Are more ready to conclude, "Maybe I cannot do this on my own," and turn to God with it at the same time.

  • Are fascinated and confused by Canadian models and leaders.

  • Have a "just do it" approach.

Similarities also exist between Canadian and American leaders. Both struggle with making good decisions and providing godly leadership. Many struggle in four particular areas:

  1. Mis-leadership flows from insecurity with oneself or one's position and can result in "people pleasing." When inner criticism and disapproval take root, they cause the leader to stumble at every challenge. In this state a leader will find it much harder to begin new or challenging projects.

  2. I constantly remind leaders that with the right facts, the decision will jump out at them. Unfortunately leaders often collect the wrong type of information. Making major decisions without crucial information can derail ministries.

  3. Many leaders serve organizations or churches that lack clear-cut objectives. When boards fail to provide these, leaders struggle to make good decisions.

  4. Many leaders are hindered by fear – fear of change, of making the wrong decisions, of consequences, of their past, maybe even of leadership itself. Fear, perhaps more than any other factor, causes people to leave leadership positions. If they don't leave, fear can cause them not to lead.

Congregants are longing for godly leadership. Let's learn from each other, pray for each other and, to use and American expression, "Just do it."

Dr. Carson Pue is president of Arrow Leadership in Vancouver, B.C., preaching pastor at Murrayville Community Church and vice chair of the board of directors of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Originally published in Faith Today, May/June 2003.




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