Friday, August 19, 2022
Home Leaders Spiritual Life Characteristics of the Emotionally Unhealthy Leader

Characteristics of the Emotionally Unhealthy Leader

Before writing The Emotionally Healthy Leader (Zondervan, July, 2015), I was challenged to distill the core qualities of an emotionally unhealthy leader. I landed on four:

They Have Low Self-Awareness

Emotionally unhealthy leaders tend to be unaware of what is going on inside themselves … They ignore emotion-related messages their body may send ‒ fatigue, stress-induced illness, weight gain, ulcers, headaches, or depression. They avoid reflecting on their fears, sadness, or anger, and fail to consider how God might be trying to communicate with them through these “difficult” emotions.

Moreover, they struggle to articulate the reasons for their emotional triggers, i.e. overreactions in the present rooted in difficult experiences from their past, and they remain unaware of how issues from their family of origin have impacted who they are today. This lack of emotional awareness also extends to their personal and professional relationships. In fact, they are often blind to the emotional impact they have on others, especially in their leadership role.

They Prioritize Ministry Over Marriage or Singleness

Whether married or single, most emotionally unhealthy leaders would nevertheless affirm the importance of a healthy intimacy in relationships and lifestyle, but few ‒ if any ‒ have a vision for their marriage or singleness as the greatest gift they offer to the church and the world. Instead, they view their marriage or singleness as an essential and stable foundation for something more important ‒ the building an effective ministry, which is their first priority. As a result, they invest the best of their time and energy in becoming better equipped as a leader and invest very little in cultivating a great marriage or single life that reveals Jesus’ love to the world.

They Do More Activity for God than Their Relationship with God Can Sustain

Emotionally unhealthy leaders are chronically overextended. Although they routinely have too much to do in too little time, they persist in saying a knee-jerk yes to new opportunities before prayerfully and carefully discerning God’s will. The notion of a slowed down spirituality ‒ or slowed down leadership ‒ in which their doing for Jesus flows out of their being with Jesus, is a foreign concept.

If they think of it at all, spending time in solitude and silence is viewed as a luxury or something best suited for a different kind of leader, not something essential for effective leadership. Their first priority is leading their organization, team, or ministry as a means of impacting the world for Christ. If you were to ask them to list their top three priorities for how they spend their time as a leader, it’s unlikely that cultivating a deep, transformative relationship with Jesus would even make the list. As a result, fragmentation and depletion constitute the “normal” condition for their lives and their leadership.

They Lack a Work/Sabbath Rhythm

Emotionally unhealthy leaders do not practice Sabbath ‒ a weekly, twenty-four period in which they cease all work in order to rest, delight in God’s gifts, and enjoy life with Him. They might view Sabbath observance as irrelevant, optional, or even a burdensome legalism that belongs to an ancient past. Or, they may make no distinction between the biblical practice of Sabbath and a day off, using “Sabbath” time for the unpaid work of life such as paying bills, grocery shopping, and errands. If they practice Sabbath at all, they do so inconsistently, believing they need to first finish all their work or work hard enough to “earn” the right to rest.

Did you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions? Perhaps you’re thinking, Yes, I resonate with some of these characteristics. Or maybe you’re still somewhat skeptical, thinking, That’s just the nature of leadership; I know people who are very unhealthy like you just described but are still effective leaders. While it’s true that none of the characteristics appear to be especially dramatic, these leaders, and the ministries they serve, eventually pay a heavy price for such chronically unhealthy behaviors.

Pete Scazzero
Pete Scazzerohttp://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/
Pete Scazzero is the Founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NYC, a large, multiracial, international church with seventy-three countries represented. After serving as Senior Pastor for twenty-six years, Pete now serves as a Teaching Pastor/Pastor at Large. He is the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2010) and most recently released The Emotionally Healthy Leader (Zondervan, 2015). He is also the author of The EHS Course (Zondervan, 2014) and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day (Zondervan, 2013). Pete and his wife Geri are the founders of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, a groundbreaking ministry that equips churches in a deep, beneath-the-surface spiritual formation paradigm that integrates emotional health and contemplative spirituality. They have four lovely daughters.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Much of my experience comes from the developing world, with leaders in more tradition marriages. There, priority seems a foreign idea, where the wise talk more about balance than about priorities. Where wives to not leave or divorce their husbands, a marriage can take a little more stress, for a few years, than with Westerners who often regret their marriages.
    Third-World leaders learn early to pace themselves, to delegate to apprentices, to leverage caste and cultural advantage, and to keep several friends with whom they can eat, relax and laugh a lot — without reducing their oversight of growing ministries. However, they may grow tyrannical over time but seldom burn out or lose their mate.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Eminem – Stronger Than I Was

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Dj Dark – Chill Vibes

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love (Dj Dark & Adrian Funk Remix)

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Silicon Valley Guru Affected by the Fulminant Slashed Investments

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Recent Comments

Ngallendou Dièye on Navigating the Wave of Need
subash on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Ngallendou Dièye on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Eric Richardson on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Malcolm Webber on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Ngallendou Dièye on Our Evangelical Cover-Up?
Mark Larson on Is Competition Wrong?
betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspo on Is Evangelical Worship Headed for a Huge Crash?
Ngallendou Dièye on 3 Fears that Paralyze Potential
Mwesigye Batatwenda Peterson on Pain
Mwesigye Batatwenda Peterson on 5 Reasons We Struggle to Rest
Michelle Chiappelli Zvyagin on Is Evangelical Worship Headed for a Huge Crash?
Ngallendou Dièye on Why Jesus Let People Walk Away
Jim Sutherland on How to Help Someone Not Change
Ngallendou Dièye on How to Help Someone Not Change
Ngallendou Dièye on Alone in a Crowd
Nancy Watta on Leaders Act!
Dr George Varghese on The Weapon of a Clear Conscience
Ngallendou Dièye on 10 Ways To Lose Great Staff
Ngallendou Dièye on Christian Celebrity Culture
Ngallendou Dièye on What NOT to Say to Someone in Pain
Joel Loewen on How to be Patient
Ngallendou Dièye on A Bit of Advice on Giving Advice
Malcolm Webber on 7 Key Paradigm Shifts
Malcolm Webber on 7 Key Paradigm Shifts
Ngallendou Dièye on 7 Key Paradigm Shifts
Ngallendou Dièye on Leaders Act!
Elisha kakwerere on 10 Reasons Leaders Stop Growing
Ngallendou on The Idolatry of Missions
Kyla Alexander on The Idolatry of Missions
Edgard Abraham Alvarez Muñoz on Little Church, Big Mission
James Ruark on A Church Led By Scholars
Ngallendou on A Church Led By Scholars
Bill Blatz on A Church Led By Scholars
Bill Frisbie on Who Stole My Towel?
niklaseklov on Who Stole My Towel?
Malcolm Webber on We Need to Learn Empathy!
Hansraj Jain on Honoring Your Predecessor