A tree with a shallow root system may still look beautiful on the outside, but it is incapable of supplying the water and nutrients for fruitful, long-term, and upward growth. This becomes a significant problem when our ministries and organizations grow larger and faster than the depth of our roots can sustain. Deep and wide roots anchor a tree, allowing it to draw up plentiful water and nutrients from a larger and deeper area of soil. In many cases, the root systems of our spiritual lives are inadequate for the challenges of shaping and leading a growing church, organization, or team.
At the same time, it seems logical that a deeper inner life should lead to good organizational practices. Sadly, however, it often does not. There is a disconnect when we fail to apply our spirituality with Jesus to such leadership tasks as planning, team building, boundaries, endings and new beginnings. Too often, we instead rely on unmodified business practices to navigate these tasks, grafting in secular branches onto our spiritual root system. This tends to bear the wrong kind of fruit. While we are called to redeem the best of what we can learn from the marketplace, it must be carefully pruned so that it “fits” into the inherently spiritual life of our teams and ministries. The life from our root system with Jesus must flow upward and outward into every aspect of our outer leadership tasks if we are to bear good fruit.
In The Emotionally Healthy Leader (Zondervan, 2015), I examine specific ways the nutrients and water from the roots of the tree actually inform the critical areas (or branches) of leadership. I have chosen to focus on four critical tasks in the outer life of a leader:
- Planning and Decision Making
- Culture and Team Building
- Power and Wise Boundaries
- Endings and New Beginnings
This is what we will be addressing at The Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference April 22-23 and in the next phase of the materials we will be producing at EHS.