This is a guest post by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a 27-year-old INTJ living in Portland, Oregon with his wife Rose. He works full time as a worship leader, while also finding time to study at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in pursuit of a masters degree. Tyler’s first book releases in August of this year through Moody Publishers and is available for pre-order now. You can find Tyler on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.
Here is the post:
The 5 Shadows of Leadership
Life is often the summation of darkness and light. One job of a leader is to bring more light into the world of those around them. This can obviously be done in a variety of ways, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Leaders must learn how to deal with their own internal shadows in order to bring light out of their own lives.
In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer evaluates 5 shadows (chapter 5 of the book) that must be explored in order for internal transformation to take place. In life and in leadership, the shadows can often overtake us to the point where we get lost in the darkness of our own lives and begin to reflect the darkness onto those around us. This is our opportunity to dive into the depths of our own inner lives in order for God to more greatly work in us, and in turn, those we have influence with.
Insecurity About Identity and Worth
Few things are more powerful than what gives us our identities. Our online persona, our pastoral influence behind the pulpit, the number of people who want to spend time with us—all this can slowly create an identity bound up with what we do, not who we are. Before we are leaders with a position and a title, we are first children of God. We are loved and valued as beings created by God. When this fact roots us, what happens at home, at work, at school—all of it is put in its rightful place in life.
Seeing Life as a Battleground
I’m an extremely competitive person. The games I play that have a clear winner and loser, I play to the death. Subsequently I can tend to view life and ministry similarly. What can often keep me motivated is a fear of losing. The problem with an internal belief of life as a battleground is that it builds walls between us the and the people we should be extending bridges to.
In leadership there are times when hard decisions need to be made and stark lines must be drawn in the sand, but often getting over our need to win will allow us to bring harmony to our relationships.
Craig Groeschel did a wonderful job of describing all the ways we believe in God but live as if He didn’t exist. Functional atheism within leadership is a deep-seated understanding that all of life is dependent on us and our abilities. We often convince ourselves that if things must happen, we will be the ones to do it. And the result of this mindset is burnout, depression, and poor relationships. Overcoming this shadow allows us to rely on others, which empowers them and liberates us from our own atheistic world.
Fear of Chaos
I know many leaders, including myself, who speak of messiness as a reality of the spiritual life, but operate in their leadership as if messy was the cardinal sin. The lesson often learned in exploring this shadow is that chaos is the beginning of creativity and, in turn, creation.
Palmer says that the “when a leader fears chaos so deeply as to try to eliminate it, the shadow of death will fall across everything that leader approaches.”
Denial of Death
We all know them: the pastors who won’t let a ministry die. More than likely we’ve each held onto our hopes for a failing ministry longer than we should have. Our intentions are correct, but by denying death we put unnecessary demands on others to continue breathing life for the sake of accommodating our own insecurity. Here’s the truth we often miss in covering up our insecurity: Death always creates conditions in which new life can be birthed.
In our heads we know death does not have the final victory, but in our hearts we remain concerned that death reflects poorly on our leadership. And this connects back to the beginning: Where is our identity and value found?
What shadows of leadership have you explored?