Are you suffering from “success” that is making you spiritually sick? The toxic success for most of us pastors and leaders has more to do with numbers and growth than it does with money or “things.” Nonetheless, it remains a very real sickness in the church. Here is a survey I adapted from an inventory Paul Pearsall developed in his provocative book, Toxic Success. Would the people how know you best say that: 1. Your success is coming at the price of being insensitive, and even oblivious, to the needs around you?2. You vacillate from high energy to total crashing.3. You are grumpy and don’t laugh easily.4. People are afraid to bother you because you’re too busy.5. You’re almost always doing several things at once.6. People have trouble getting and keeping your attention.7. You don’t touch or hug much.8. You are perfectionistic and controlling.9. You’re critical and intolerant of other people.10. You often feel annoyed. Read more.
Are you suffering from “success” that is making you spiritually sick? The toxic success for most of us pastors and leaders has more to do with numbers and growth than it does with money or “things.” Nonetheless, it remains a very real sickness in the church. Here is a survey I adapted from an inventory Paul Pearsall developed in his provocative book, Toxic Success. Would the people how know you best say that: 1. Your success is coming at the price of being insensitive, and even oblivious, to the needs around you? 2. You vacillate from high energy to total crashing. 3. You are grumpy and don’t laugh easily. 4. People are afraid to bother you because you’re too busy. 5. You’re almost always doing several things at once. 6. People have trouble getting and keeping your attention. 7. You don’t touch or hug much. 8. You are perfectionistic and controlling. 9. You’re critical. Read more.
One of the most important tasks for us as leaders is to keep our roles and souls connected. How much of your life is divided or involves pretending? How much of your life is wearing other people’s faces? Ananias and Sapphira were disconnected internally and, for all intents and purposes, stopped the great move of God in the book of Acts (see Acts 5:1-11). How do we live faithfully to our God-given, true selves when enormous pressure comes at us to put on a “pretend” self? In this message on “The Holy Spirit and Your Integrity,” I unpack this theme. At the end of this message I talk about our need for 3 things: 1. Space. We need times of letting go of our roles and our work life in order to listen deeply to our true selves in God. Nobody can do that inner work for us. 2. Suffering. Richard Rohr reminds us that. Read more.
Having too much to do in too little time is normal. Leighton Ford, my wise mentor for over 30 years, once told me: “Pete, the problem is that if you are faithful to Christ over the long-haul, the demands on your time and energy will only increase as you get older. This problem of having too much to do in too little time is never going away.” The great challenge is to lead yourself first. Consider the following reflections (written to myself) from my journal: Be calm and clear about yourself. You can only be clear about where you are and your own “true self in Christ.” Your inner tensions today are a call from God for additional time for prayer and reflection to wrestle with your “inner demons” so that you can to listen to His will and priorities (See Matthew 4:1-11). Hold onto what God has given you to do and do. Read more.
I shared this devotional with our NLF staff team yesterday at our spring retreat. Jesus models for us what it means to be true to ourselves rather than follow the voices and demands of those around us (see Mark 1:35-38). May Sarton’s poem provides a unique medium to wrestle with that process. Be sure to take some time with the questions that follow. Now I Become Myself (by May Sarton) Now I become myself. It’s taken Time, many years and places;I have been dissolved and shaken,Worn other people’s faces,Run madly, as if Time were there,Terribly old, crying a warning,‘Hurry, you will be dead before-‘(What? Before you reach the morning?Or the end of the poem is clear?Or love safe in the walled city?)Now to stand still, to be here,Feel my own weight and density!The black shadow on the paperIs my hand; the shadow of a wordAs thought shapes the shaperFalls heavy on the page, is. Read more.
After another couple of weeks of pondering and passing this around our staff team for a second round of discussions, here is a second, more precise listings of our learnings. This is a living document, borne out of twenty-one years of labor, mistakes, and fruitful suffering. For this reason, I am prayerfully re-reading these lessons with a healthy reverence before God. 1. Character is more important than gifting. The power of God really is made perfect in our weaknesses. When we have overlooked issues of character, and humility in particular, we have paid a price. 2. Do not rush. When decisions were made quickly, without pausing to pray, think and proces implications, we have had regrets. Seeing the Promised Land without seeing the pillar of cloud and fire is foolishness. 3. Leaders need to take responsibility and initiative for their own growth and development. As leaders invest time in personal growth and development, they shape all those who look. Read more.