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Shame, Guilt, and Leadership

Posted on January 4th, 2013

How much of our leadership is actually driven by guilt and shame? In broad terms, shame has to do with feeling about who we are; guilt is related to our feelings about what we do. They both rob us of the profound experience that we are God’s beloved children. We may feel deep, hidden shame about who we are because of addictive behaviors or dysfunctional choices. We may feel shame due to negative messages from our family of origin – “You are no good.” “You’re a loser.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” Then there is the shaming nature of so much Western Christianity. As one author said, “My very being was so sinful that God himself was enraged.” She recognized later that she was trying to repent her way out of what she thought was guilt. Some of us don’t need to repent. We need to be rescued from our shame. Ask the Lord to show you where you are wallowing in guilt or failure or some form of shame or guilt. Many of us as leaders, while we are beloved in the heart of our Father, remain far from home. This drives, I suspect, much of our  inability to stop, rest, delight, and savor the goodness of life. Ask yourself today: “What is keeping me from deciding to get up and go to the place of grace?”

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