Monday, September 05, 2011

When Leaders Lose Their Soul

Photo Credit: Entrer dans le reve
From Ruth Haley Barton's book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry:
"These days (and maybe every day) there is real tension between what the human soul needs in order to be truly well and what life in leadership encourages and even requires. There is the tension between being and doing, community and cause, truth-telling and putting the right spin on things. There is the tension between the time it takes to love people and the need for expediency. There is the tension between the need for measurable goals and the difficulty of measuring that which is ultimately immeasurable by anyone but God himself.

There is the tension between the need for organizational hierarchy with all the power dynamics this creates and the mutuality and interdependence of life in community to which we as Christians are called. There is the tension between knowing how to "work the system" and entering into trustworthy relationships characterized by trust and a commitment to one another's well-being. There is the tension between the need for an easy discipleship process through which we can efficiently herd lots of people and the patient, plodding and ultimately mysterious nature of the spiritual transformation process. And then there is the challenge of knowing how to speak of these things in fruitful ways in the very inside places of power without becoming polarized in our relationships with one another.

...The temptation to compromise basic Christian values -- love, community, truth-telling, confession and reconciliation, silent listening and waiting on God for discernment -- for the sake of expedience is very great. In a high performance culture (both secular and religious), holding to deep spiritual values in the face of the pressure to perform -- whether performance is measured by numbers, new buildings or the latest innovation -- is one of the greatest challenges of spiritual leadership."

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