The greatest danger in Christian leadership is to forget God. It happens so slowly, we scarcely notice it. What we do notice are the symptoms. The easy, light yoke of Jesus becomes heavy and hard. We start looking for quick fixes. We begin relying on unmodified business practices to navigate our ministries, grafting secular branches onto our spiritual-root system.
Five words help me to keep my feet on the ground. Each summarizes a different characteristic of Jesus’ upside-down kingdom.
Like most of you, my goals take at least two or three times longer than I think. The kingdom of God is, and always will be, a mustard seed that grows slowly. Paul compares leadership to the slow pain of a woman giving birth (Galatians 4:19). This slowness frustrated Judas and the Zealots. They rushed and missed what God was doing. So I ask myself daily, “Am I rushing?”
The rhythm of death and resurrection is something in which every Christ-follower participates. We not only live and die; we also die and live. Facing the deaths of our plans, and discovering what is dying in our relationship with God and our plans, is central to a faith being continually born anew. So I ask myself daily, “Am I listening?”
I can spend 20 hours on a sermon and be so wrapped up in “the revelation,” that I forget to take the time to see the faces of the people to whom I am speaking. I can write and build the ministry without thoughtfully and prayerfully loving individual people. So I ask myself daily, “Am I loving people?”
Loss is an integral part of life. The losses we as leaders must embrace and absorb are, I believe, greater than the norm. Like most people, I want to minimize, deny, distract, blame, get angry and medicate pain. This is the hard tonic that leads me to face deaths so that new gifts might emerge. So I ask myself daily, “Am I paying attention?”
Receiving the gift of God’s limits remains the greatest challenge of my Christian life. The limits God continues to place around me reveal my self-will, my rebellions and my desire to run the world. I often return to my own chapter, “Receive the Gift of Limits” in The Emotionally Healthy Church, to remind me of this radical biblical truth. So I ask myself daily, “Am I surrendering or fighting?”
These are my five key words. What words might you add to remain anchored and grounded in God amid the demands of leadership?
Pete Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, and the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church. This story was originally posted on Scazzero’s blog at EmotionallyHealthy.org.