Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership presents a very different side of leadership from learning new techniques or developing our skills. But it gets at something much deeper. Although I believe it applies to every leader and to any situation, the application for church leaders is especially critical.
Unfortunately, there are probably few things more common in church leadership than pastors with dry souls. The nature of the ministry is such that the work is never finished and the demands are unceasing. It’s difficult, to say the least, to take time consistently for your own personal spiritual growth.
Yet, as Barton points out, it is essential for spiritual leaders to care for their own soul. Otherwise, our leadership impact is limited, and our ability to stay in the game is compromised.
Two things really stuck out to me as I was reading. The first was the importance of living within our limits. All of us have all kinds of limits, but somehow we often avoid facing them. We misapply statements such as “I can do all things through Christ” and violate our physical, emotional, and spiritual limits, often resulting in burnout, depression, or some other trauma. Although we can coat it in spiritual-sounding language, I suspect an unhealthy driven-ness often lies beneath it. We feel the need to prove ourselves or to compete with the guy down the road.
One of the best things we can do is examine our lives to determine if we have any margins in our lives or if we are pushing ourselves to the limit. If we are constantly stressed, become short with people, or begin to feel resentful toward those around us, it is a tip-off that we may be violating some limits.
As I have progressed in my ministry, now pushing thirty years, I’ve come to believe that limits are actually a gift from God—often a gift no one seems to want, but a gift nonetheless. Without that gift, many of us would never stop. We would burn the candle continuously at both ends. Limits force us to slow down, to stop, and to rest, which is a good thing.
The second thing that struck me was the emphasis on intercession. The question, “Who would we be if the practice of intercessory prayer shaped our leadership?” is a powerful one. I suspect that, if we took it seriously, it would significantly change how we lead.
I suspect that we would have a better ability to live within our limits, because we are consciously depending on God rather than on our own abilities. I also suspect that we would see more of God’s power active in our ministries. Finally, I suspect that we would reproduce leaders who were men and women of prayer—spiritual leaders, which is what the church longs for.
So how are you doing with accepting your limits? Or was it something else that struck you? Either way—what are you going to do with it? Share your next steps.