Most church leaders I know are really good at helping others. Sometimes, however, they struggle to be vulnerable and transparent enough to be able to allow others to supply their own needs. Here’s the greater tragedy of that story. Without a coach or a mentor or a counselor to point those things out, most leaders are blinded to the fact they are relationally out of balance.
Are you showing signs of relational imbalance and you don't even know it? Let's dive in and find out.
If a person is going to be an effective, relational leader, it is so important that the leader learns to ask for his or her relational needs to be met. If they don't, there is virtually no doubt it will lead to an internal imbalance that leads to a lack of fulfillment, burnout, or possibly even derailment.
If a leader can be blinded to this deficiency, the question is then, “How can we bring more awareness to this area of our life? How do you even know if you’re deficient?”
Matthew 7:16 says: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Verse 17 goes on to say: “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit."
Let me clarify this now. I do not believe there are many church leaders out there who are literally corrupt and producing evil fruit. However, the principle still applies. Church leaders will know whether or not they are relationally out of balance by the fruit they are producing in their personal lives.
If you’re vulnerable and transparent with others, if you’re being yourself, if you’re able to work through conflict with your spouse or with people closest to you and/or with team members, then get back to love and connection with those individuals.
If you’re not trying to always be perfect in everything you do, then chances are you are probably relationally balanced. On the other hand, if you are constantly feeling like you're drudging through mud to handle tough conversations, or you find yourself constantly fighting negative thoughts, or your bad habits seems to continue to surface in various forms in your life, you may need help. If you’re having trouble identifying what’s most important in your life, if you’re feeling disconnected, or sad, or frustrated, or alone on a regular basis, if you feel like you are stuck in this state of mind, there’s a good chance you’re relationally out of balance.
Here’s the problem: Sometimes you are so conditioned to see that particular negative fruit in your life you become literally desensitized to the effects of it. It’s a blind spot for you. You may not even realize it is still there.
I was working with a pastor recently who couldn’t understand why he felt so empty inside. No matter how much he prayed and spent time with God he couldn’t really shake the emptiness and the aloneness he felt. He was surrounded by people - his spouse, his leadership team members, his church members - he even had the presence of God with him – yet he still had an overwhelming feeling of aloneness. He seemed to also struggle with mustering up enough energy to move his church forward.
We identified the negative fruit as emptiness, feelings of being alone, and the lack of energy. As we started diving deeper into trying to figure out what was actually going on with him, we realized he had lots of acquaintances called friends. He even supplied a lot of their needs. However, he never engaged with them on a deeper level. He never allowed anyone to see those most intimate parts of himself. It was a defense mechanism he created in his early years of life to protect himself from relational pain and hurt. He didn’t even realize it had become his pattern. The result was an emptiness and a lack of energy to do the functional things needed as a pastor.
When we started prying into this, just bringing an awareness to what was actually going on seemed to help him tremendously. Then, as we began to focus on his relational life in our coaching sessions, he very quickly began to see some changes in his energy levels. He began to feel a fulfillment he had not felt in a long, long time... if ever.
In Matthew 7:16 we read, “Ye shall know them by their fruits…” You may have heard me ask this question before. I assure you it is worth contemplating again:
What negative fruit are you producing in your personal life?
Keep in mind, negative fruit may not be extreme and overly terrible; it may show up as something mild. However, it may be something you want to bring clarity to in order to really go to the next level of success in your ministry. If you are seeing some things that maybe you’re just not quite satisfied with – some areas in your life where you are just not exactly where you want to be - then it’s so important to follow the negative fruit back to the soil of your life to find out what ingredients are responsible. If you’re seeing negative relational fruit in your life, there’s something that is disrupted in the soil.
So here are some questions to think about:
What nutrients are you missing?
Are there any toxic components
that need to be dealt with in order to move closer
to relationships in your life?
At the core, what’s causing this negative fruit?
The right people in my life can drastically improve my internal circumstances. If you’re a church leader, I know you’re a phenomenal person who deeply cares for others. So here are a few more questions to ponder:
Do you have the right healthy people in your life
that will deeply care for you?
Are you being transparent enough to allow them to
move closer to you and to provide those key relational nutrients?
Take a chance with the people in your closest circle. Open up to the right people. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Share the emotions you’re feeling. Engage in those meaningful and growth producing relationships.
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.