Developing your capacity to handle pain and conflict in Leadership


Yesterday I got the spend the day with a group of senior pastors from around my church family, that my wife and I oversee.  The topic I took them through for the day was on developing capacity to cope with the pain and conflicts of leadership. I believe Sam Chand, when he exhorts to know that 'if you're not hurting, you're not leading' and 'you'll only grow to the threshold of your pain'.

As I review my own 18 years of church planting, the pain of conflicts and the brokeness that brings into my emotional life, has been the factor to cause me to flag and question my ability and willingness to continue leading.

Many of my friends who have left pastoral ministry have often done so, overwhelmed by a tidal wave of conflict, pain and relational brokeness.

So yesterday, I used three books that have have helped me the most with understanding and navigating the pain and conflicts of leadership:

Gene Edwards, A Tale of Three Kings

Dan Allendar: Leadership with a Limp

Sam Chand: Leadership Pain

1.  A biblical understanding of Pain

A tale of Three Kings is a book I must have given away over twenty times.  Only 97 pages long it retells the story of Saul, David and Absalom.  This beautiful retelling helped me to cast the pain and conflicts I have faced in a biblical perspective.

2.  Being transformed by Pain and Weakness

Dan Allendar's book is stunning.  It diagnoses the pathologies of conflicts in leadership, of how we often abuse others, or are overwhelmed ourselves in conflict.  It brings understanding and hope to see how we can face our brokenness with others and learn from it and be better leaders.  In fact our ability to face our broken and weakness determine what kind of leader we are.

3.  Leading through pain

Sam Chad's book by his own admission is not a theology of pain, or a biblical study in pain, but is rather an exploration of the leading in times of  pain and brokenness.  As I read it, the stories of conflicts helped me get perspective and the leadership within it gave me steps and actions to lead through conflict and pain.

I'll turn my musings on the three books into a series of blogs posts over the summer, watch this space.