8 Challenges to Emotionally Healthy Leadership

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Effective leaders must learn to navigate these 8 areas of tension.

I spent most of my adult life reading great leadership books. EHS led me on a journey, however, to recognize there were unique issues to church leadership that were rarely discussed.

I have identified eight unique leadership challenges, each of which is powerful and far reaching in its implications. Each is worthy of a chapter or a book itself. 

I have crafted them in the form of tensions that we hold as leaders.

1. Dual Relationships — Supervision and Being Friends.

We are a church family and we often hire our friends who then become our employees. The result is I become both your pastor/spiritual leader/supervisor and friend.

Which is it?

We hire people we mentor and then they become our employees with a contractual agreement and money is exchanged. We are naïve to admit that all things are equal. They are not when we have the power to fire or increase/decrease someone’s pay. The people we lead do not have the same power over us.

Friends enjoy an equal power relationship. Dual relationships create countless opportunities for misunderstandings.

Am I saying, “Don’t ever do it?” No, just do it with your eyes open. 

The risk is enormous. Failures and broken friendships abound in church leadership around the world.

2. Hiring/Firing — Being a Church Family.

This is perhaps our most difficult challenge as church leaders. 

To terminate a person in the corporate world is painful. In a church setting, it is excruciating. 

We became pastors and leaders to serve and help people, not hurt them. Yet if we don’t steward God’s resources well by hiring and firing well, we betray our people who trust we are leading well and doing the right thing.

3. Strategic Planning — Waiting on God.

Balancing the process of goal setting and the strategic planning process with prayerful discernment is no small task.

What is God saying? What season are we in as a church/organization? What is God’s will for us?

The fact that a door is open and we can do something does not mean it is His will for us now. Jesus struggled with the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had to submit his will to the Father.

How much more do we?

Pete Scazzero PETE SCAZZERO is author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006), a groundbreaking work on the integration of emotional health and contemplative spirituality. He has also authored The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2003), winner of the Gold Medallion Award for 2003, Begin the Journey with the Daily Office (2008) and several best-selling Bible study guides. Pete is the founder and senior pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a multiracial, international church representing over 65 countries.

More from Pete Scazzero or visit Pete at http://petescazzero.com

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  • Geoff Warder

    great stuff!