Connectional Leadership and the Self

Connectional Leadership and the Self

Experience has not changed my belief that when the leadership (“L”) position is filled by a leader (or leaders) who is moving forward in his/her own process of self-differentiation, any system stands the best chance of dealing creatively with, rather…

Shedding Light in the Dark Night of a Forced Termination

It is almost impossible for anyone to go through a forced resignation, the loss of one’s livelihood, the rejection by people to whom one gave one’s life, without feeling some depression.

This can show up physically in degrees of anxiety,…

Changing Others, Changing Self

A very nervous young bride-to-be was counseled by her pastor on a way to stay focused for getting through the ceremony.

“Take it one step at a time,” said the minister, “When you enter the church tomorrow, you will be…

Everything Takes Five Years

I am often reminded of what my friend Margaret Marcuson, author of Leaders Who Last, says about bringing about change in congregations, which is, “Everything takes five years.” While that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s not far from the truth. Over…

It Only Takes a Few of Them

The forced termination of clergy remains one of the most difficult, and often tragic, issues for congregations.

It can take a congregation years to recover from the forced termination of a pastor—and so, also, for the pastor.

A single episode…

Breaking out of Gridlock

June 17, 2019—I consulted with a couple of organizations that were “stuck” but motivated enough to get moving toward becoming “healthier.” As I worked with the leaders and employees of both organizations I was reminded of some fundamental truths about…

Four Systems Traps When Starting at a New Ministry

May 27, 2019—Bill Wilson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Churches in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, wrote about “4 Traps for Clergy Moving to a New Congregation.” He named them as the trap of expectations, the…

Phrases You Should Never Use Around Church Members

May 13, 2019—We all have that painful memory of a moment when our emotions got the better of us during a moment of reactivity. As soon as we said those words we regretted them, or, if not immediately, then eventually,…

When the Honeymoon is Over

April 8, 2019—Beginning a ministry at a new church is an exciting experience. New challenges, a fresh start, promising possibilities, new relationships, can all be energizing. For most clergy, the first year at a new church is filled with excitement…

What Clergy Don’t Talk About

Most pastors are good preachers, and some fine pulpiteers and wordsmiths. In their preaching and teaching ministry they need to cover a wide range of topics, issues, and subjects, from the Bible to contemporary complex social issues; from marriage to…

Four Proven Strategies to Prevent Leadership Failure

March 25, 2019—Leadership is, arguably, an organization’s greatest asset; even in congregations. As much as we desire to believe otherwise, congregations tend to make little progress in terms of mission, new initiatives, new programs, outreach, or organizational health in the…

Why Leaders Fail

February 11, 2019—Decades of leadership studies have produced well over 50,000 books with ‘leadership’ in their title but almost none on leadership failure. Adrian Furman called this “the elephant in the boardroom.”(1) Furnham noted that “more leaders fail and derail…

A Leader’s Responsibility

December 17, 2018—One major trap for clergy leaders is the demand for them to take responsibility for things that rightly are not theirs. This is exacerbated by the propensity of pastors to accept that demand. After all, they are in…

The Middle of the Story (and hurrying up to catch up)

November 26, 2018—One of the most mystical concepts in Bowen Theory is that of the multigenerational transmission process of relationship systems. This multigenerational process is a powerful force at work in biological families and in congregations. The concept…

The Burnout Cycle

November 19, 2018—During a recent conversation with a new clergy friend, he shared his experience of burnout. After five years at his previous church he’d not taken a vacation. Weariness led to seriousness, then a neglect of self-care, then a…

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