In April I had surgery on my right eye to remove a growth that, if left attended, would have caused permanent vision problems.[1] It was unpleasant, to say the least. But as I spent time recovering, I thought about things I previously had not thought about. Here’s one: Perspective requires more than one eye.

 For about a month, due to the surgery, the eyedrops and ointments, the new “shape” of my eyeball, and a bunch of other things, I could not see clearly through my right eye, so I compensated by using my left eye for visual tasks. A week after the surgery, I took the eyechart test and could not see the letters below the first line, you know, the one with the huge E and Z in block letters. I quickly discovered something – when using only my left eye for clear sight, I had difficulty accurately judging distance and proximity of objects while driving, using stairs, and doing similar things. Without more than one eye, clear perspective was not possible.

 I couldn’t help but apply that new experiential knowledge to the tasks of church leadership because a clear and accurate perspective requires more than one eye. And that’s something to talk about.

My dictionary notes four meanings for the word “perspective.” There are two that I want to emphasize in this article. The first is “the appearance of objects as determined by their relative distance and positions” and the second is “a) a specific point of view in understanding things or events; b) the ability to see things in a true relationship.”[2] 

Leaders make decisions. Wise leaders make wise decisions. And wise decisions require proper perspective – we need to “see” the issue before us in its relationship to other issues as well as “see” if from several vantage points. All too often in my consultations with church leaders I encounter situations in which a church leader, usually the lead pastor, has made a decision that seemed reasonable at the time but proved to be problematic or even catastrophic. Typically, I find that the unwise decision was made based only on the lead pastor’s perspective on the matter and there was no consultation with anyone that might have helped through providing insights from a different point of view. 

Things are not always as they seem to be from a particular perspective.

Another aspect of wise leadership decision making is recognizing our own biases. Unfortunately, this is quite hard to do by ourselves because we may not even recognize our biases until someone else points them out to us. Our understanding of an issue may or may not be accurate depending upon our perspective. A good example of this is in football officiating – one of my avocations in times past. I often marvel at how incredulous announcers and pundits can be when a football official on the field did not see some action that was picked up by a camera at midfield thirty and rows up. How can this be? Because they had different viewpoints – things look different depending upon where one is when viewing them. This is why gaining differing perspectives about an issue is so important in making wise decisions. Things are not always as they seem to be from a particular perspective.

Having an accurate perspective on a matter is vital to wise decision making and is something for leaders to talk about. Here are some ideas for starting your conversation.

·      To whom do you go to gain additional perspective on the issues you face and decision you must make? To whom does your board and other leaders go? Do you typically handle things on your own, or do you have people or content that you use to gain perspective? Who are the people and what are the other sources you use to gain additional perspective?

·      How does what we read and watch in the media affect our perspectives? Algorithms determine our media feeds. Are we stuck in an echo chamber? How can we compensate for this so as to understand other perspectives on the issues we face?

·      Sometimes church leaders believe that the church board can provide sufficient additional perspectives for making important decisions. Yet, sometimes church boards become monolithic, functioning as a single unit rather than as a gathering of individual leaders working together to make the best decision possible under the circumstances. Gathering a bunch of people that all think the same does not provide additional perspectives. How does our team guard against insular thinking? Who can we invite into the conversations that matter in our church both from within our congregation and from outside?

·      In my early adult years, I categorized books and articles as “good” when I agreed with what the author had written. When selecting titles to read, I looked for viewpoints like mine. How foolish of me. In later years I found that reading about an issue from authors with whom I disagreed helped me to clarify and solidify my own beliefs as well as helping me discern any weaknesses in my logic in trying to support my perspective. And occasionally, I had to change my mind. Do you and your team read from authors having viewpoints different from your own. What are some of those titles and how did you process them?

 As my eye healed, my vision improved greatly – I began to see things more clearly. That’s because proper perspective requires more than one eye. To whom do we leaders go to gain perspectives we don’t already have on the important decisions we must make? The ministry of leadership is too important to limit our perspectives, and gaining perspective requires intentionality – other perspectives must be sought. And, since perspectives are opinions, we must remember that opinions are to be weighed, not counted. Where should you and your team go to gain the broader perspectives we need to lead well?

That’s something to talk about.

Let us know if we can help and how your conversation goes. Contact Bob Osborne by e-mail at

This is one of a series of articles intended to facilitate and guide church leaders’ conversations about significant issues that often are not talked about among pastors, boards, and church leadership teams. Visit the EFCA West website to see prior Something to Talk About articles.

For those with unconstrained curiosity, look up “pterygium.”

Websters New World Dictionary and Thesaurus (2002)