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.







A Personal Message from Pete Scazzero

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EQ vs. EHS

Studies indicate that EQ (emotional quotient) is so critical that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs. In fact, emotional intelligence in the workplace trumps almost every other factor — IQ, personality, education, experience, and gifts — when it comes to effective performance.

Businesses rely on emotional intelligence (EQ) to help employees learn key personal competencies (e.g. self-awareness, basic management of their triggers) and social skills (e.g. empathy, conflict management).

Our concern in emotional healthy spirituality (EHS), however, is much more than this. We are after long-term inner transformation for the sake of the world. Our goal is that Jesus Christ be formed in us.

The greatest difference between EQ and EHS is that we worship and follow a crucified God. His will and presence informs all we do. We don’t simply learn conflict resolution tools, for example, to be more effective at work. Our motivation, above all else, is to love Jesus above all else. We train people to put off their false self that has been shaped by their family of origin and the culture, and learn how to live in the new family of Jesus.

If this is a challenge you are willing to undertake, join us next Wednesday and Thursday for our Emotionally Healthy Leadership 2015 Conference. While the conference has been sold out for the past two months, you can watch it free through our Live Stream.

EH-LEADER-CONFERENCE-BANNER You will be able to download our handouts and follow the conference just as if you were in the room. So join us, and invite others as we share our latest learnings in equipping the church in a deep, beneath the surface spirituality that transforms people who then go out and transform the world.


Second-Hand Spirituality

The vast majority of people in our churches have a second-hand spirituality, i.e. they live off the spirituality of others. Because people attend our weekend worship services, participate in our programs, give money and serve, we assume they are in a vital personal relationship of loving union with Jesus.

We assume wrong. They are not.

Ask the people you serve about their time with Jesus each day: “How often do you meet with Him around Scripture and prayer? What do you do, and for how long? How might silence, solitude, Sabbath, spiritual companionship, and study fit into your life?” Ask for specifics.

You are in for a shock.

The world has changed dramatically. We have underestimated the magnitude of information overload, the moral decline of Western culture, and the impact of the Internet/social media in altering our brain circuits. “Dozens of studies by neurobiologists point to the same conclusion: when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning” (Nicholas Carr).

It doesn’t matter what we preach. Unless our people spend intentional time cultivating their own first-hand relationship with the living Jesus, we are simply shuffling chairs on the Titanic.

A Christ-follower develops a posture of receptivity through spiritual disciplines that consciously help them develop the spiritual dimensions of our lives. “Like an artist who wishes to develop painting skills, or an athlete who desires a strong and flexible body, a person of faith chooses freely to adopt certain life patterns, habits, and commitments to grow spiritually” (Marjorie Thompson).

How many of our people approach following Jesus with the intentionality of an artist or athlete? The answer is: “Not many.”

Helping our people develop a first-hand relationship with Jesus in today’s world is very hard work. But if we don’t wrestle with this, who will?


Why Can’t We Slow Down?

Slowing down can be terrifying because doing nothing productive leaves us feeling vulnerable, emotional exposed and naked. Overworking hides these feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness, not just from others but also from ourselves.

As long as we keep busy, we can outrun that internal voice that says things like:

                  I am never good enough.

                  I am never safe enough.

                  I am never perfect enough.

                  I am never extraordinary enough.

                  I am never successful enough.

Do you recognize that voice?

Far too many of us use workaholism to run from these shaming messages. I count myself among them, though I would consider myself more of a recovering workaholic at this point.

When meeting someone for the first time we usually ask, “What do you do?” We ask because, in our time and culture, identity is defined in large part by occupation or job title. It is how we typically define ourselves and how we understand our place in the world. We also classify and value people based on what they do.

Part of who we are is what we do. God is a worker, and we are workers as well. But that it is not the deepest truth about who we are. We are first of all human beings. But when things get switched around and our role or title becomes the foundation of our identity, we are reduced to human doings. And when that is the case, slowing down for God, ourselves, and for others becomes almost impossible to do.

Sadly, I’ve discovered that this distorted concept of identity can be found from Asia to Latin America, from North America to Africa, from the Middle East to Europe.

Let me invite you to join us at The EH Leadership Conference 2015 April 22-23 through a Free LiveStream as we talk about how to slow down, not only ourselves, but our entire ministry for God. In doing so, we position our ministries to have a powerful, long-term impact for Christ in our world. Click here to register


Good Friday: A Time to Embrace Our Endings

On Good Friday we remember that at the cross Jesus wipes away our sins, becoming a global magnet that draws the whole world to Himself. Good Friday also reminds me that embracing endings (deaths) and new beginnings (resurrections) is the pattern of life for every Christian.

rugged-crossNothing new takes place without an ending. A real ending—a final death—often feels like disintegration, falling apart, a coming undone. It feels that way because that is what death is. It is an ending that requires walking through a completely dark tunnel, not knowing when or if any light will come again.

If we embrace these losses for the severe mercies they are, God does a profound work in us and through us in ways that are similar to what the apostle Paul describes as “death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:12).

 As a person who tends to resist accepting the necessity of endings, I consistently do four things to keep me on track:

  • I face the brutal facts of situations where things are going badly and ask hard questions, even when everything inside me prefers to distract myself or flee.
  • I remind myself not to follow my feelings during these times of embracing endings as a death.
  • I talk with seasoned mentors who are older and more experienced, asking for their perspective and wisdom.
  • I ask myself two questions: What is it time to let go of in my personal life and in my leadership? What new thing might be standing backstage waiting to make its entrance in my personal life and in my leadership?

 This second question especially encourages me to move beyond my fears, reminding me that God has something good for me in the future—even though I may not see any hints of what that might be.

Parker Palmer sums it up well: “On the spiritual journey…each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is to stop pounding on the door just closed, turn around—which puts the door behind us—and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls.”


The Emotionally Unhealthy Leader

This is the first of 9 podcasts we will be doing on The Emotionally Healthy Leader book that will be released on June 30th. It is entitled – “The Emotionally Unhealthy Leader.” Each of these podcasts will offer a summary of the critical points for leadership teams to discuss of the selected theme.

Don’t worry, we are not changing the name of our podcast!  We do want to address some critical issues among leaders though as we must first understand what makes up an Emotionally UnHealthy Leader so that we can work to become Emotionally Healthy Leaders.  Pete Scazzero and Rich Villodas dig into this great conversation discussing much of the foundation of Pete’s soon to be released book, Emotionally Healthy Leader.   Click the video image below to watch the interview on YouTube or the button below to listen on iTunes.



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