When the Right Hill Kills You
I don’t know what it is like to have the right hills kill you. I have served at New Life for over six years. I have never been hired at another church. I have never been asked to leave a church staff or volunteer situation. Not because I didn’t deserve it. Believe me I wouldn’t have allowed myself to serve in ministries at times in my past before I came to New Life. I have simply never chosen a hill to die upon to the point of being asked to leave. However, I have almost died on the wrong hills a number of times. Most recently I almost threw in the towel for a few really bad reasons. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.
1. STOP MAKING EMOTIONAL DECISIONS. Easier said then done. I am emotional by nature. My college mentor use to say it more politely, he would tell me that I “feel things very deeply”. I am actually really dramatic. When I get upset it is not easy for me to calm down. When I get emotional everything seems more important and way more urgent. My main issue is that I generally make quick decisions during those turbulent hours that I always end up regretting. If you are anything like me then do yourself a favor. Sleep on it. If you are angry, upset, hurt, or demoralized decide to sleep on it before you make any decisions. If you have to go home early, shut off your phone, and stay away from email to make it happen then make it happen. You are better off dealing with the ramifications of going off the grid for a few hours then going off the deep end because you’re emotionally unstable.
2. GET SOME PRESPECTIVE. The best way I have found to get perspective is to pray. When we focus on God our issues seem small and a little stupid. When we stop praying we get focused on ourselves too easily. When I stop praying I start to think that all of my “problems” are much bigger then they really are. Then I start to believe that my problems are more important then they really are. That inflated sense of importance puts you in awkward situations when you spend time with people who have a healthy perspective. There are days that prayer doesn’t seem to be enough. Those days I try to get out of my context. It’s important to occasionally break free from your bubble and get a view of the world from a fresh angle. Most of the time you realize that you didn’t have it nearly as bad as you thought. A fresh perspective on your problems, position, and relationships can reorder your priorities and change your view of the world in a matter of moments.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GREAT PEOPLE. All the best intentions in the world wont get your through every emotional time in your life. Eventually life will be overwhelming. In those times we need great people. Luckily for me those three great people are my wife, my head of staff, and my founding pastor. Without Jenn, Barry and Chris in my life I wouldn’t be where I am today. In fact I don’t think I would have made it through the past two weeks. Chris (our founding pastor) is a great listener. His wisdom and humility allow him to endure my emotional responses as he directs me to go “sleep on it” until sounder judgment prevails. Without his steady hand leading me I would have made some really bad decisions in the heat of emotion over the years. Barry (our head of staff) always asks rational questions and points out the truth. He doesn’t let me lose perspective. He also doesn’t pull his punches even when he knows I’m upset. If he sees me being overly dramatic and blowing things out of proportion, he tells me. I respect him so that’s really helpful to me. I need someone who can point out when I am acting like Chicken Little. Finally, my wife, Jenn, is always honest. It’s commonly thought that in every relationship the guy wants to fix everything and the girl wants to listen. In our marriage we are both fixers. The other night I was complaining as we sat down to eat dinner together. Jenn told me that she thought I was “listening to the devil.” She was right, and her comment changed my course dramatically. I need someone who will cut through the crap and be completely honest with me. I am glad I have my wife for that. You need to surround yourself with great people, not people who make you feel good, but people who make you better.
As leaders if we could learn to stop making emotional decisions and live with greater perspective we would be considerably more effective and way more fun to follow. This week, when you get emotional decide to sleep on it and make a decision in the morning. When you start to feel like the center of everything then make a point to spend more time in prayer and get out of your bubble. If you don’t have great people around you then you need to find them. Leadership doesn’t develop in a vacuum. You need people who are better then you and are willing to make you better. I know these simple things have been changing my life and changing my leadership for the past few weeks. After nearly making some really bad decisions I am glad I had some really amazing people around me to lead me through emotional times and lead me too a greater perspective.