“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”
Cultivating our inner life is critical, if not the most important thing we can do, as leaders and followers of Jesus. From our hearts flow “the well-spring of life!” Daniel Goleman, in his article, “What Makes a Leader?” says, “The numbers are beginning to tell us a persuasive story about the link between a company’s success (a church’s vitality and sustainability) and the Emotional Intelligence of its leaders.” Emotional Intelligence includes five components:
- Social Skill
The first three are the focus of cultivating a strong inner life! “Self-awareness” means having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives. Self-awareness extends to a person’s understanding of his or her values and goals. Someone who is highly self-aware knows where he is headed and why,” Goleman states.
How is self-awareness developed? Almost yearly, most churches have a “review” of their pastor. I often receive calls from a pastor after theses reviews when critical suggestions have been made. Goleman says, “self-aware people know – and are comfortable talking about – their limitations and strengths, and they often demonstrate a thirst for constructive criticism.” Maybe the Session/Church Board needs to also evaluate itself and learn together how it could be more effective?
Self-regulation, the second component of a strong inner life, is about managing our many emotions. Goleman expounds, “Biological impulses drive our emotions. We cannot do away with them but we can do much to manage them. Self-regulation, which is like an on-going inner conversation, is the component of Emotional Intelligence that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings. People engaged in such a conversation feel bad moods and emotional impulses just as everyone does, but they find ways to control them and even to channel them in useful ways.”
Believe me, I have not arrived at self-regulation. I am learning and growing. Recently, I became angry because I perceived someone being very negative. I wrote about it in my journal• “Help me take the log out of my own eye before I try to take the speck out of their eye” (Matthew 7:4). Then I wrote for a page about how I, personally, was negative• This certainly helped me self-regulate! My coach that week said something like this to me: “What we do not like about someone else is something that exists in us and is usually buried.”
The third component of our inner life is motivation. Leaders are motivated to achieve! What characterizes motivated leaders?
- They are passionate! Goleman explains, “Such people seek out creative challenges, love to learn and take great pride in a job well done.” Recently, I led a group of people in a Lectio Divina reading, a spiritual reading, of II Corinthians 5:14-15. The focus was on “The love of Christ compels, energizes or controls us.” I asked, “How is the love of Christ energizing or compelling us? What are we passionate about?” If I am not passionate about my work among you, I will not be a good leader for you. I am very passionate about our vision and values – Where we are headed!!
- Leaders keep raising the bar! Motivated leaders are not status-quo seekers! They are always asking to be stretched. They are always asking how we might be more effective in engaging people in God’s Kingdom!
So, how are we as leaders?
- Are we self-aware of our strengths, weaknesses, growing, edges, triggers, shadows?
- Are we learning and growing in self-regulation?
- Are we compelled and energized to use our gifts for the good of God’s Kingdom?
Heartful and Hopeful,