Leadership and Anxiety

My friend Pete had a great blog post addressing some issues in the church he’s serving but his insights into how a leader deals with anxiety are gold. I’ve found this issue of anxiety very important in dealing with churches and I think a lot of his wisdom scales to the denominational level too.

  1. They do what they can to get more people to take up their anxiety (in a trend called ‘herding’ which I also call “group-think” where they glum together as like-minded folk and affirm each other in the issue of the day). They are unlikely to have open discussion with those who are not like-minded, since that spoils the aim.

  2. They believe that if they can spread their concern to enough people to get or imply their opinion is a majority opinion, it is therefore valid (democracy). I say just because a group is all stampeding in the same direction does not mean it is a good direction or that there is danger. They may just have been spooked by a dust devil. There may well be a cliff ahead. 

  3. They firmly believe others are creating their anxiety and are unable or unwilling to look at their part in it. In fact, this is where maturity would have them behaving differently if they had been taught it or had it modeled. A mature person is able to identify and take responsibility for their part in the situation. Immaturity — like that of the 10 year old who calls her parents mean because they won’t let her ride the 4wheeler off the ramp into a snowbank — only sees others creating their problem, not themselves contributing to it. In the same way, some who are currently physically adults have never been taught to discern how much they actually seem to need fear and anxiety in their lives, and to see how they cannot rest until others are fearful with them. (There is a strong possibility that, among other things, preachers who taught them a fear of ‘getting it wrong and suffering God’s wrath’ are partly responsible for creating this and crippling them in this way.) When I have conversations with people, I listen carefully for how much they are able to identify their feelings and emotions, and especially for who the attribute those emotions to. If they tell me I am creating the feelings in them, I know there are things they have not yet learned, such as that we chose to let ourselves have the feelings we have. But that is a subject for another day.

  4. They want leaders to do things to ease their anxiety, and believe that is the leader’s role and responsibility.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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