A Request From Pete

9780310494577_imageWe are so excited about The Emotionally Healthy Leader that releases on June 30th! It is the fruit of 8 years of thinking, and 18 months of writing. (I am glad it is over!)

Zondervan, along with Amazon, have worked out a special offer we want to share with you.  If you go to http://EHLeader.com and pre-order a copy of The Emotionally Healthy Leader you will also receive a FREE eBook version of the book along with free bonus content.

We hope you will take advantage of this special offer as well as share it with others.  Below is a link to pre-order the book along with a tweet or social media post for you to let others know about this offer.

Thanks so much!

– Pete (and the EHS Team)

Pre-order @petescazzero‘s new book The Emotionally Healthy Leader by going to http://EHLeader.com & get a FREE eBook version also #EHLeader

Looking for God in Our Limits

Our limits are often the last place we look for God.

But when we fail to look for God in our limits, we simply bypass Him.

In the last three weeks, God has limited me through a bicycle accident that required surgery (breaking my right wrist and dislocating my left elbow) and through personal identity theft (where my banking, credit cards, and online accounts were all compromised). These limits have revealed to me, once again, the condition of my own heart and the challenge it is for me to surrender in trust to Him. O how easy it is to rebel against God right in the midst of my work for Him!

I have been reminded of Robert Barron’s insight that the heart of original sin in the Garden of Eden was their refusal to accept God’s limits and not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:15-17). John of the Cross wrote 500 years ago that only the intervention of God through leading us into dark nights can purify us of the imperfections and rebellions that keep us from union with Him. It is not something we accomplish ourselves through our spiritual practices.

I know God is slowing me down, teaching me dependence and brokenness – but these are hard truths to learn deeply.

Limits are one of the most counterintuitive, difficult truths in Scripture to embrace. They fly in the face of our natural tendency to want to play god and run the world. Yet it remains a steady truth that we return to, over and over, in our role as leaders under Jesus.

Yet God reveals himself to us, and to the world, through limits in unique and powerful ways—if we have eyes to see.

Take a few moments and consider the following question: What might be one limit God has given you in this season – either personally or in your leadership – that actually might contain a gift for you and those around you? You may find, as I have, that God is waiting for you there.

-Pete

Just Relax

Anxious. Frustrated. Annoyed. Angry. Resentful.

These are emotional states that describe our leadership more often than we care to admit. Relaxed is not an adjective I hear often to describe us as Christian leaders. Consider this important case study of Moses.

Moses worked and waited for almost forty years to enter the Promised Land. Having started with 603,550 men to manage — not to mention all the women and children — Moses’ and Aaron’s patience was repeatedly tested to the limit by a seemingly endless barrage of complaints. When the people cry about their lack of food and water and accuse Moses of bringing them out into the desert to die, Moses is livid. At this point, he is also exhausted and has little capacity to manage his anger and resentment. Imagine the scene as he loses his cool:

The LORD said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”  Numbers 20:7 – 12

Moses lashes out and rebukes the people, calling them “rebels.” Rather than honoring and obeying God, he relies on an old strategy of striking the rock because, hey, why not, it worked once before (Exodus 17:6). And, miraculously enough, sufficient water bursts forth again to satisfy the thirst of nearly 3 million people — and their animals! The people’s needs get met, but Moses and Aaron pay a stiff price. God names their underlying offense rebellion and unbelief and prohibits them from leading the people into the Promised Land.

What does it look like when we have lost our trust in Jesus? How can we know if we are truly trusting in Him?

Frederick Dale Brunner, in his wonderful commentary on the Gospel of John, redefines trusting in Jesus as relaxing. He writes: “‘Relaxing in’ is a good modern translation of ‘trusting in’ or ‘believing in’… (In fact), it is the goal of the entire gospel of John to create this relaxation.”

Perhaps our greatest work is to relax in Jesus as we lead. Considering the pressures we each confront on a daily basis, I am finding this is no small task.

What might it look like for you to relax (i.e. trust) in Jesus with the leadership challenges before you? In what ways might you be taking matters into your own hands and “striking the rock”? And as a result, what “promised land” might you be sacrificing right now?

The Core Question of Emotionally Healthy Preaching Rich Villodas (with Pete Scazzero)

Rich Villodas, who is now Lead Pastor of New Life Fellowship, led one of the workshops at our recent Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference on “Emotionally Healthy Preaching.” Once again, it made a large impact on all who attended. One of Rich’s greatest gifts to the larger body of Christ is, I believe, in the art of preaching. The following is the core of what he shared:

Preaching is foremost not about preaching. It’s about a life with God; a life of integrity, out of which we speak. This is the core of emotionally healthy preaching. Like many pastors and preachers, I love the art and science of preaching. I work hard for stories and illustrations that make biblical content accessible to our congregation. I work hard to understand the text exegetically. I think critically about how a passage of Scripture applies in our NYC context. All of these things are important. In addition to all of this, however, emotionally healthy preaching seeks to place extra emphasis on the integrity of the preacher.  I like how Pete puts it,

“The best gift you can give your church is to have a deep walk with God. What is most important when we stand up in the pulpit is not primarily what we say, but who we are.”    – Pete Scazzero

To be an emotionally healthy preacher means that we have done the hard work of slowing down our lives to encounter God, as well as ourselves. To preach from a deep well of communion with God will determine how deeply our people are transformed. In short, our churches desperately need preachers of integrity.

 When we think of integrity and church leadership, we tend to think in sexual and financial categories. Integrity however is much broader. Integrity is about congruence. And to live and preach congruently means that we preach from a place of awareness.

This is why one of the best questions to help us preach with integrity is this:

 “Have I allowed the biblical text to go deep beneath my own iceberg?”:

In other words, have I allowed it to pass through my life before it’s preached to others? More often that I’d like to admit, I’ve preached sermons that I wasn’t living. This is perhaps the greatest temptation we face. It’s very easy to preach stuff we are not living.

To be an emotionally healthy preacher doesn’t mean that we are living the content we preach perfectly, but rather, we are wrestling with it faithfully. We are taking the necessary time to allow the truth of God’s word to penetrate and permeate our lives. As we make a practice of living this way, our sermons will have a life to them that cannot come any other way.

New Podcast: Facing Your Shadow

In this episode of the Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast Rich Villodas and Pete Scazzero discuss facing your shadow.  This conversation comes out of the forthcoming book Emotionally Healthy Leader.  We hope you will take 11 minutes to watch this video and consider sharing it with a friend.  Watch the conversation below or listen by going to  iTunes.

Emotionally Healthy Culture and Team Building

At last week’s Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference, I offered, for the first time, a workshop entitled: “Culture and Team Building.” This is one of the chapters in the upcoming Emotionally Healthy Leader book, but I was taken aback by the incredibly large response of participants.

The following is a brief summary of the four characteristics of emotionally healthy culture and team building that I shared:

  1. Work Performance and Personal Spiritual Formation are Inseparable. We are not simply concerned with our team’s ability to do their tasks well and fulfill their job description – be it paid of unpaid. We are deeply concerned if they are growing spiritually in Jesus. It is the first question we ask when we meet with them. And we invest time, energy, and money in their personal growth and formation.
  2. The Elephants in the Room are Acknowledged and Confronted. An “elephant in the room” refers to an inappropriate or immature behavior that remains unacknowledged. They emerge all the time – often at the most inopportune times. Rather than shrink away in fear of addressing them, we see them as mentoring moments to raise the spiritual maturity level of the person, our team, and our ministry.
  3. Time and Energy are Invested in the Team’s Personal Spiritual Development. We take time in our meetings to feed and mentor our teams. At New Life staff planning days, for example, we set aside half our day (3x a year) to investing in their development. We encourage ministries within the church to follow a similar pattern. One of the reason’s people have always joined Geri’s marriage leadership team is her constant investment into their marriages and lives. We may not be able to pay marketplace salaries, but we offer something much more valuable – personal development to become more like Jesus.
  4. The Quality of People’s Marriages and Singleness is Foundational. Because we really believe that Christian marriage and singleness are meant to be living signs of God’s love for the world, and that this aspect of our lives is the loudest gospel message we preach, we purposefully engage our teams about their singleness or marriage. We ask questions. We invest resources and time to encourage and equip them, knowing the health in our ministry is inseparable from the health level of their marriages and singleness.

This may be new territory that will feel uncomfortable – at least initially. But one thing is sure: you will meet God in unexpected ways and unleash new beginnings that will bless you, your team, your ministry, and the world you seek to serve for Christ.

How Can It Be?

One of the high points of our EH Leadership Conference this past week was Geri’s opening message around Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. The following is an excerpt.

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?

Nicodemus, one of the top spiritual leaders of all Israel, seems clueless to the deep transformational spirituality that Jesus is talking about. Jesus looks at him with a bit of shock and says: “How can it be that you’re a leader in God’s Kingdom and…

  • You have little or no emotional connection with your spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, or congregation
  • You have not had emotional or physical intimacy with your spouse for weeks, months, years
  • You intimidate others with your anger
  • You are defensive, critical, and judgmental
  • You avoid conflict at all cost
  • You don’t feel, or grieve losses and disappointments
  • You don’t play or rest
  • You don’t spend time with God regularly
  • You can’t say “no” or disappoint certain people
  • You are so afraid of what others think
  • You are in such poor health due to poor eating and/or exercise
  • Your finances are so out of order
  • You escape pain through pornography, eating, overworking, gambling
  • You live in anxiety
  • You measure success by numbers and not love
  • You grow your ministry skills but not your loving skills
  • You store up resentments
  • You are separated from your spouse and no one knows about it
  • You are not approachable or warm
  • You are easily annoyed, irritated and offended
  • You don’t really practice what you preach
  • You are afraid to confront certain people
  • You haven’t had a day off in weeks, months, even years
  • You don’t know how to listen
  • You have no silence or reflection in your life

The spiritual formation journey isn’t easy. For Nicodemus to truly see the Kingdom of God would require a death to his illusions, fears and denials. The same holds true for us.   May St. Therese of Lisieux’s wisdom encourage you as it has often encouraged me as you give Jesus increasing access to your interior: “I have my faults, but I also have my courage.”

The Leader’s Marriage Conference 2015

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Leading Out of a Marriage that is a Sign and Wonder for Christ

The following chart and prayer were highlighted at our EHLeader PreConference Session today as we explored the power of making marriage our first ambition and passion. The first contrasts standard and biblical sexuality for married couples while the prayer reflects something we invited couples to pray each day.

 

ChartPrayer

 

 

 

 

A Personal Message from Pete Scazzero

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