Transform It or Transfer It

I’ve always heard that hurt people, hurt people. I agree with this sentiment and would take it a step further and say that if hurt people, hurt people then hurt leaders, hurt LOTS of people.

Going into this new year one of the things I’m really trying to focus on is my own personal spiritual health. I realize that in my position of leadership my hurt, my patterns of sin, and my unadressed issues can bring a tremendous amount of pain to the people entrusted to my leadership.

I think somewhere along the way, we leaders, (especially Christian leaders) have bought into this idea that we should be “beyond” or “above” being hurt. We think, if I were a stronger Christian I wouldn’t hurt so much.

This misconception has created a lot of habits for us. It’s why we keep secrets. It’s why we can put on facades and pretend we’re someone we’re not. We’ve learned how to say one thing and mean another, how to hide fear, and deceit behind a fake smile.

We learned how to respond to the question, “How are you?” with “I’m fine.” But deep down we know this isn’t true. We’re not fine. We’re not fine at all.

We are…

Hurting,
Lonely,
Confused,
Frightened.

And in the midst of these whirling emotions I’m often tempted to want to exchange friends for fans, relationships for respect, and intimacy for influence.

Can I offer you a bit of advice going into 2012? Don’t be seduced by life on the pedestal.

We are leaders but first we are human. We hurt, bleed, suffer, doubt, and stumble just like anyone else. We must learn to allow Christ to transform our pain or we’ll just transfer it to the people we lead.

So here’s to a 2012 where we get real with each other and the people God’s allowed us to lead!!

30 Responses to “Transform It or Transfer It”

  1. I’ll tip my glass of Diet Dr. Pepper to you on this one Pete. My theme for the year is Transformed, but no one needs it more than me. I look forward to seeing (I think) how God is going to do that in my own life.

  2. Tamara says:

    Thanks, Pete.
    After years of hanging onto hurts from the past, God recently showed me that my past is exactly that – my past. It is a part of his plan for my life, but those hurts don’t define who I am – HE does.
    That doesn’t mean I’m walking free of burdens and scars, but it does mean that leading is both harder and easier knowing how broken I am and how loved I am all at the same time.

    thanks for the reminder, brother. :)

  3. Julie says:

    I am much more capable of respecting a leader who presents him/her self as human, and isn’t trying to be so heavenly minded and pious that he/she does no worldy good. In fact, I would go so far as to say, I don’t trust a person who displays their “Godliness” and their supposed perfection in order to prove just how close to God they really are… It nauseates me. If I ask how you are, you can be sure, I respect you more for saying, “I’m in a rough spot right now, pray for me” than I do if you drop the Christian ‘F’ bomb. (Thanks Jon Acuff) “I’m Fine” , everything is “Fine”.

  4. Brian Kiley says:

    Great Post.
    I read this just as I was starting to dive into my 2012 Planning. Great reminder to address, in detail, this part of my life. I intend to share it with my other Leader friends. Thanks.

  5. Jen J says:

    Hey Pete!! Thanks for this post. I just wanted to say that this is one of the things that I have always loved and respected about you. You have always strived to be real with those that you lead…and listening to you speak and being able to watch you lead, I have never felt like you put yourself on a pedestal or tried to pretend you were any better than anyone else.

    Your transperancy and your desire to remain transparent is what sets you apart from the myriad of other “pastors” and “leaders”.

    You and your family and church (both staff and volunteers and congregations) are in my thoughts daily. Just know you all are in my prayers!

  6. Thanks for the reminder Pete. I will work on being more real today.

  7. Joe Pote says:

    Very good post, Pete, on a topic discussed too little.

    We often behave as though the Christian church is a Power of Positive Thinking club, where we all expect to BE fine, just because we SAY we’re fine.

    Then, since everyone else seems to be fine, we propogate the myth by following suite and saying we are fine too, even though we’re hurting…which leads to feeling isolated and lonely…in the middle of a church filled with fellow believers.

    I struggle with it myself, regularly.

    No, I don’t want to be a downer in the worship service. I don’t want to always wear my feelings on my sleeve. I don’t want a reputation for always complaining about life’s difficulties. And yet, if we never express how we really feel to anyone, then we’re neither being honest with ourselves nor giving others the opportunity to be honest with us.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. dan says:

    Well said. I came to a similar understanding this morning during my personal devotion time. Thanks for writing it better than I could say.

  9. Rachel says:

    This is a great post, Pete. I just want to say that your openness and honesty about your own sins & struggles – on your blog and in your sermons – has always been refreshing. When people mask transparency with an agenda or idea of seeming ‘perfectly put together’, at one point or another it becomes obvious to those around. If leaders are un-relatable there’s not a whole lot of reason for followers to stick around. Donald Miller posted a couple of days ago about Reputation vs. Character, and stated we should always choose character. He wrote:

    “People don’t judge who we are, they judge who we’ve led them to believe we are.The more time and effort we put into making ourselves look great, the longer and harder the fall when the truth comes out. And eventually the truth comes out.”

    Without without genuine, real, honest words and actions…where is the substance? These things are lasting. So easy to give in to the fleeting things and feelings of the world & it’s approval.

    As someone who believes in you and is challenged by you, I’m glad you’re willing to let us know you’re not perfect. Thanks for all you do! Praying for you.

  10. Marni Arnold says:

    Excellent topic discussed today, Pete! You took a truth and expanded it to deepen the truth. Thank you for addressing this! This is essential to leadership…but also to all Christians as well.

  11. Greg Frohna says:

    Great post Pete! I, too, appreciate your pursuit of sincerity. (In fact, isn’t that the genesis of the title of your blog?) Your candor serves as a great model for me and I am sure many others.

  12. Wow man. You nailed it. I’ve been here plenty during my short time in ministry. Thanks for reminding me!

  13. Tom Pryor says:

    When someone asks “How’s it going?”, Zig Ziglar taught me years ago to reply “Terrific, but getting better.”

    Why respond this way, even if I’m hurting?

    They will remember me because they expected me to simply say “okay”.

    It causes me to snap out of my hurt.

    It causes them to think positively as well.

    Hope you have a terrific day too! Thanks for the blog.

  14. Jenny says:

    I love this post for so many reasons. So much of our “do” comes from our “who” and if our who is broken, it spills out onto into our actions. I’ve been guilty of this… So grateful for those leaders who challenge themselves to continually grow in this area :)

  15. Spence Smith says:

    Wow.. this post has some power to it. I was just talking about this last night. I love your honesty here and being will to saying it’s ok as a leader to feel hurt but be careful not to hurt other in the process.

    thanks pete.

  16. jan owen says:

    Hey Pete! Thank you for sharing this. I encourage you in this journey. After I literally went through a “ministry breakdown” I asked all kinds of pastors for help. Not many wanted to talk about what I felt and what I was going through. Not many were willing to hear that I really could hardly stand to go to church – and I was the worship pastor!

    Eventually, I came out of this long period of brokenness with alot more compassion and hopefully more wisdom. I tried to talk to pastors about sabbatical, retreats, and rest and sharing leadership etc. and was always told “I’m fine. I don’t need that.” But you and I both know it’s a lie – sometimes because we are not very self aware. Its a cover. It’s said many times out of fear of losing power, position, influence, or even our job. We, as ministers, believe the American lie that we should be self-sufficient instead of believing in the Biblical truth of community and sabbath. We run ourselves in the ground and PROUDLY wear the badge of being a workaholic. And in the end, we see some serious blow outs along the way. Spectacular failures. Public disgraces. The destruction of families and churches. And they all started by not paying attention to OUR inner person, our own spiritual and emotional health…….

    So God bless you Pete! I’d encourage you to check out “Strengthening the Soul of Your LEadership” by Ruth Barton and prayerfully consider being a part of a two year retreat group for pastors. It was life changing and ministry saving for me: http://www.transformingcenter.org/in/leadership-formation/

    Praying for you my friend!

  17. Beth says:

    I hope you find the healing you need this year. I’ve been hurt by church leaders but I’ve got nothing to offer except Jesus. I’m trying to be more real but it takes courage.

  18. Lura Hewett says:

    Pete, I am always amazed at how human you are in all the activities you do in your leadership and being a good father and husband.

  19. Pete, great post. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for sharing your heart. Hurt leaders produce hurting leaders who lead hurting teams of people. The whole organization becomes infected. And, how does it play out? Cynicism, doubt, arrogance and ultimately the end suffers (customers leave, good employees leave, etc.).
    Romans 12:2 is one of my key verses for this year. Only by taking my thoughts captive before I act or say something stupid can I get rid of the old and bring in what God wants in my life.

  20. Kim Galgano says:

    Authentic. Real. At a place of growth, not too much self-focus or neediness.

    Beautiful.

    Thanks!

  21. Ginger says:

    Some of my closest friends are ministers, so this post touches my heart for my friends in a special way. Thank you for the poignant, gentle reminder that just because someone is in ministry doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same hurt, lonely, confused and frightening feelings that I do.

  22. Mike in Milwaukee says:

    Walked into a Walgreen’s the other day and when I approached check-out I asked the obligatory, “How’s it goin’?”

    The woman looked at me and said, “Pretty awful actually.”

    I was stunned. I said, “Wow, I really appreciate your honesty!”

    She said, “Well, you asked!”

    It is always easier to paste on a happy face and throw transparency out the window. I’m better at this than most because I’m a “pleaser” and always want others to think well of me.

    Thanks for the encouragement Pete!

  23. Steve Blumer says:

    Thanks Pete for the post. I agree. I actually recently left a church in search of another and the course of still searching, I’ve heard many pastors, missionaries and spiritual leaders get tired, frustrated, discouraged, etc. that I decided to try to reach out to them and start what I call “One-to-One” http://steveblumer.com/one-to-one/ and my aim is to talk about encouragement, both self-encouragement and helping those who were hurt by leaders understand how to get back with God and even “organized” religion. My latest post already included a reference to your tweet. Thanks again for the post.

  24. jeanbuttrey says:

    hi pete ,I was touched by your sermon today,i was one of the people who stood up when you said if you have something wrong Stand Up! i guess we all have problems,but i always trust in the lord for everything in my life! I have a38 year old daughter that has hurt me time and time again ,all i can do is pray for her ,i have my own issues of being lonely at 54,but i know god has a plan for me ,i can tell you some awesome stories,but it would take too long! but god told me once ,Havent i always taken care of you! I think crosspoint has been a blessing to me and you and blake are the greatest, i can see the lord work threw you both,i can feel the holy spirit in your church,god bless .jean.

  25. Jason says:

    Thank you for talking about the Elephant in the room when it comes to ministry. I think that this message should be embraced a lot more than it has been. I respect ministers more that are raw and open than those who try to walk on water.

    You should turn this thought into a book….seriously…

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