The Emotionally Healthy Leader

The Emotionally Healthy Leader

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

January marks a season of beginnings.  Resolutions are made and good intentions abound, but most are discarded within the first 45 days.  I am not going to ask you to make a resolution, but I wonder if you are willing to accept a challenge to grow in your leadership capacity in 2023.  Throughout 2023 we will be exploring resources and ways to be the type of servant leader God wants us to be.

It all begins with a life built upon and fully yielded to Christ.  To be effective as leaders we need to be sure we monitor, grow, and mature in our emotional health.

In this month of beginnings, we start by asking ourselves a simple question, “Am I an emotionally healthy leader or do I lead out of an unhealthy emotional mindset?”  A great resource in answering this question is found in Peter Scazzero’s book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader.  Peter Scazzero, served for 26 years as the Senior Pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York a church he founded and now serves as the Teaching Pastor/Pastor at Large has written several bestselling books including The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and Emotionally Healthy Discipleship.

In Chapter 1, Scazzero identifies “The emotionally unhealthy leader is someone who operates in a continuous state of emotional and spiritual deficit, lacking emotional maturity and a “being with God” sufficient to sustain their “doing for God.”   These leaders have emotional and spiritual deficits impacting every part of their lives which include a lack of awareness of their feelings, weaknesses, limits, and empathy.  Their lack of emotional health impacts their leadership, the people they lead, and every aspect of their lives.  They are often doing more than their spiritual capacity can carry and lack a healthy work and sabbath rhythm.  As Wayne Cordeiro shared, “They are leading on empty.”

 

“As a result, emotionally unhealthy leaders skim when building their ministries. Rather than following the apostle Paul’s example of building with materials that will last—gold, silver, and costly stones (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)—they settle for something like wood, straw, and mud. They build with inferior materials that will not stand the test of a generation, let alone the fire of final judgment. In the process, they obscure the beauty of Christ they say they want the whole world to see. No well-intentioned leader would set out to lead this way, but it happens all the time.”

 Most of the book is given over to the development of the Inner Life and the Outer Life.  Using the familiar motif of a tree, he talks to the reader about the Inner Life showing itself below ground while the Outer Life is manifested above ground.

The Inner Life

Face Your Shadows. “Your shadow is the accumulation of untamed emotions, less-than-pure motives and thoughts that, while largely unconscious, strongly influence and shape your behaviors. It is the damaged but mostly hidden version of who you are.” The journey into looking into the real impact of our past, of acknowledging and dealing with emotional hurts, and understanding the influences which have shaped us can be a painful but liberating step toward wholeness.

 Lead Out of Your Marriage or Singleness.  While our primary calling/vocation is to follow Jesus, we do so within our Marriage or Singleness which “must inform our self-understanding and the outworking of our leadership.”  If married, our spouse cannot be relegated to a secondary position but must know they are our covenantal partner we deeply love.

 Slow Down for Loving Union.  “Bearing fruit requires slowing down enough to give Jesus direct access to every aspect of our lives and our leadership…The key question is to what extent is the door of our heart open to him?”  “Making the necessary changes to slow down your life for loving union with Jesus is a countercultural, prophetic stance.”

 Practice Sabbath Delight.  “Biblical Sabbath is a twenty-four-hour block of time in which we stop work, enjoy rest, practice delight, and contemplate God…the fact that Sabbath happens weekly means that it has a rhythm, one that stands in stark contrast to the typical rhythm to the world around us.”

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The Outer Life

Planning and Decision Making.  “Emotionally healthy planning and decision making begins with an assumption…that as fallen human beings we have a tendency to develop hardened hearts.”  If you are not concerned about developing a hardened heart it probably already has.  To safeguard our hearts, we need to “define success as radically doing God’s will, creating a space for heart preparation, praying for prudence, and looking for God inside our limits.”

Culture and Team Building.  “Creating an emotionally healthy culture and building a healthy

team are among the primary tasks for every leader, whether that leader is a senior pastor … and the task for Christian leaders is even more demanding because the kind of culture and teams we create are to be radically different than those of the world.” This includes understanding our team’s spiritual development, creating a healthy culture, and true biblical team building.

Power and Wise Boundaries.  “Navigating the issue of power is a true test of both character and leadership. We’re more than willing to talk about the abuse of power when news breaks about a scandal in someone else’s life, but the minefields surrounding the use of power are rarely acknowledged … This silence leads to consequences and significant harm, with the potential not only to wipe out a lifetime of good work but to undermine our ministries for years to come.” This chapter will provide the reader with the content and context to work through these challenging issues.

Endings and New Beginnings.  “Like the ending of the seasons, we experience leadership endings with those we serve. In fact, I would say leaders experience even more endings and losses than the average person. Such losses may span a continuum from large to small, but a loss is a loss, and each one leaves its mark on us. To a greater or lesser degree, these endings drain our energy and diminish our ability to rise for the next challenge. They knock us off balance—at least for a time.” As leaders, we navigate these waters with an understanding of the hope of Christ.

The Emotionally Healthy Leader is a book that will challenge and increase your leadership capacity.  I pray in 2023 you will become more and more the Christ follower you have been called to be and serve his church with ever increasing effectiveness.

In Kingdom service,

Executive Director / AMS

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

Astros winning the world series

Astros winning the world series

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

With the Astros winning the World Series, those of us who are fans are grateful for a tight series with the Phillies.  The teams both had amazing playoff games and are evenly matched in many ways.   Even those who aren’t big baseball fans enjoyed the commitment these two teams have played with.

So in the spirit of the World Series I would like to offer what can make a baseball team great – and corresponding lessons that would be helpful to a church staff or team of leaders.  Frankly, there is no shortage of opinions, articles or analysis of what makes a great team. I did read one article by Arthur Raise of particular interest.  As he stated,Baseball is a team sport and every player and team needs to be committed and passionate about the game.”  To succeed every team whether major league, minor league, or local needs the following:

1.  A team spirit and commitment to the game. The team must work as a single unit and be devoted to the game. They must live and breathe baseball.

2. The team must have a good support system of families, team owner, sponsors, the coach, school and college authorities and more need to understand the psyche of the team and create a strong impermeable support system.

3. The team must have a good coach who will lead the team in every way. The coach is the backbone of the team and needs to be tough and yet loving. He or she must care for the team and its every player. The coach must understand the team and its members better than he understands himself or herself.

4. The team must be devoted to the sport and yet understand that there is a world beyond baseball. So, every member must simultaneously prepare for life beyond baseball. Be trained in skills and have qualifications that will allow the player to live a fulfilled life after baseball.

5. Great focus must be placed on balanced nutrition and mental strength training. A strong mind and body makes a great baseball player. Team training must include aspects of health, nutrition, and mental strength. The team must have a balanced diet, a balanced exercise routine that includes breathing exercises and meditation techniques.

6. While winning can be the goal every team must play for sheer joy and each player must focus on his strengths and work out his weaknesses. The team must become an impregnable fort so that the opponents can never use kinks in the armor.”

So how would these apply to a Staff Team or a Team of Servant Leaders in a church Family?  Same principles with a bit of adjustment would make them more applicable:

 1. A team spirit and commitment to the Gospel. The team must work as a single unit and be devoted Christ followers. They must live and breath to bring glory to God. 

2. The team must have a good support system of church families, church partners and supporters who join with them in fulfilling the Mission of the Church and the fulfillment of God’s unique intention for them. 

3. The team must have a genuine Pastor who will lead provide healthy servant leadership. The pastor is a critical part of the team and needs to be tough and yet loving. He must care for the team and every member.

4. The team must be devoted to the Church and yet understand that there is a world beyond the Church.  Work-Life balance is critical – all work and no play makes for an unhealthy staff or team of leaders.  We need time to recharge, be with our families and have a life that is not fully defined by what happens within the Church.

5. Great focus must be placed on balanced nutrition and mental strength training.  We are told to love God with all of our soul, mind and body.  A strong mind and body makes us more effective and gives us stamina for the long-term.

6. We already won – Jesus saved us.  But we are called to follow Him for the sheer joy of serving Him.  Each team member must focus on their strengths and work out their weaknesses. The team must become an impregnable fort so that the enemy can never use kinks in the armor.”

 

Maybe you would agree – a great baseball team might have something to teach us about being an effective team.

In Kingdom service,

Executive Director/Associational Mission Strategist

Right, Rights, & Responsibilities

Right, Rights, & Responsibilities

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

Now what? With the striking down of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which impacted the lives of so many for almost 50 years, has come to an end. But not before impacting countless lives including more than an estimated 60 million preborn children. As the conversation moves from the national to state legislatures there are 3 questions we need to consider as Kingdom people.

What is Right? This may seem obvious but too often it’s not the first question asked. For the believer, the first response when considering a matter is to simply ask what does God say about this? What can I learn in God’s word about the matter at hand and how do I best glorify God in my obedience? While there may be differing views on interpretations there is no variance in the critical understanding that when we say yes to Jesus, we committed to yield all our lives over to him.

Romans 12:1-2

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What are our Rights?  This is where many people start their decision-making process.  Our understanding of rights is shaped by many factors including culture and tradition.  When we begin with what are our rights instead of what is right, we are in danger of making choices which may be within our civil rights but not within God’s eternal purpose.   We have the right to speak into the process but not to intentionally villainize those with whom we disagree.  We have the right to be involved in the processes which will be taking place at the state governments across our country but not to demand everyone agree with us.

What are our Responsibilities?  What does this decision mean to my life and to our church families?  Being prolife means more than protecting the unborn.  It means taking seriously the Gospel’s message about neighboring.  We must be mindful of the needs of those who find themselves with child but without resources, the child born but not wanted, the child who needs fostering, the child who is an orphan, the fatherless, those in poverty, the infirm, the challenged, the elderly, to name just a few.  It’s not enough to support the rights of the unborn, we must champion the needs of those who are born and in need or we are violating the spirit of James 2:14-16.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

The coming days will provide opportunities for meaningful conversations to take place. We will have a growing opportunity to show the reality of God’s love to those who are facing challenging realities. How we answer the questions will show our true hearts.

In Kingdom service,

5 Trends in church planting

5 Trends in church planting

LEADERSHIP MATTERS by Roger Yancey, D.Min.

Ten years from now your church may not be able to find a new pastor.

In reviewing the materials found in, The Coming Shortage of Christian Leaders: Facing Facts, Finding the Way by Bruce McAllister from June 2021, the March 2017 article by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group, The Aging of Americas Pastors, and Daniel Yang’s work with the SEND Institute, 5 Trends in Church Planting

Two realities are colliding to cause the present and future challenge the church is and will be facing.

The first is the aging of pastors across America. “The aging of pastors represents a substantial crisis for Protestant churches,” says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “In fact, there are now more full-time senior pastors who are over the age 65 than under the age of 40. It is urgent that denominations, networks, and independent churches determine how to best motivate, mobilize, resource, and deploy more younger pastors.

As the median age of pastors increases there will be an increasing number of churches who find that when their pastor retires, they may not easily locate a viable pastoral candidate. It’s not just pastors median age is getting older but the age of those who surrender to ministry is increasing while the number of those who commit to ministry is not keeping
pace with the present and future needs of the local church. 

The second reality contributing to this growing challenge is the calling out of future ministers has largely declined in many local congregations. It was once a common part of many evangelical church services to ask during a time of invitation if God was calling someone out to Christian ministry. Whether it was to missions or as a minister it was a question people had to grapple with as part of God dealing with them. It was a question heard at camps, student gatherings, university settings, and in their Bible studies but it is a question largely absent in most invitations today.

How can we expect for people to respond to God’s call if we don’t challenge them to deal with it? Just as we ask people to make a decision for Christ, we need to ask them to deal with the possibility of God’s call on their lives. Almost 80% of churches acknowledge they don’t place a significant priority on training and developing the next generation of church leaders. If you speak with ministers over the age of 40 you will find most were part of a church where they were invested in by their pastor or other significant church leader as they were dealing with God’s calling on their life. Unless we purposefully identify, develop, train, and enable future ministers we will find the lack of future church leaders continuing to decline.

What is happening with the aging of church pastors and the lack of calling out the called is directly impacting church planting and the lack of available church planting pastors.

But first let’s examine 5 trends identified by Daniel Yang and the Network Leaders from the Fuller Church Planting Initiative:

1. Demographic Demand Multiethnic Churches. “By 2045 there will be no majority culture. The fastest growing ethnic minority is Asian Americans… The implication for this is the need to recruit diverse planters, as well as training and coaching planters in cultural intelligence (CQ).“

2. The Rise of Micro-Churches. “Micro-churches are uniquely able to reach micro- cultures and other hard-to-
reach areas with the gospel. In contrast to house church movements of the past, which were mostly independent and not interconnected, micro-churches today seem to thrive and to reap benefits from some centralized infrastructure that connects and resources these missionaries.”

3. From Worship Services to Community Engagement. “As post-Christendom settles in and as the next generation increasingly identifies as “nones” and “dones”, church planters must be able to demonstrate the gospel before it is declared. They have to be able to prove in tangible ways that the gospel makes a real difference in the world before they have enough credibility for their message to be received…Churches are moving away from attractions models based on proclamation, and to more missional models that are based on demonstration of God’s love through community engagement.

4. Enlarging the Farm System. “As the first wave of church planting in the 21st century comes to shore, networks are realizing their low hanging crop of leaders — largely youth pastors and parachurch ministers — have all been recruited to plant churches…to tap into new leaders, churches and networks need to be able to identify and develop missional leaders earlier. For example, creating spaces of discernment, normalizing church planting as a legitimate path of calling, and establishing residency and apprenticeship opportunities.”

5. More Co-Vocational Church Planting. “Church planters increasingly see their calling overlapping with the economic marketplace. Rather than spending their time fundraising, and rather than pursuing a job at Starbucks simply to evangelize co-workers, planters are considering how their job can be part of the way they plant a church…The implication is networks can come alongside co-vocational planters to offer business help and even micro-loans that can fuel church plants that are more economically based.” 

With the aging of ministers, the decline of calling out the called, and the necessity for embracing new realities in church planting, it is critical for the church to strategically respond. We need to pray for God to raise up future ministers, for us to regularly issue a call to Christian ministry, and expand our understanding of what will be part of ministry in the future.

God is still a calling God. He may be calling you today to ministry. What will you say?

In Kingdom service,