In 25 years of ministry and 30 years of leadership, I have seen a great deal. I have experienced many incredible moments of God moving, moving through leaders, organizations, and also experienced being outcast and oppressed from leaders and their organizations for saying no to them. Prior to Covid, I have only asked two people to move on from a ministry or church. During Covid, I have had to ask four people to leave our church property and not come back. As I met with district leaders, politicians, community leaders, and many more and said yes or I would give my support, I was welcomed into that circle and nothing or very little was reciprocated back. However, when I have declined, I have experienced great oppression, slander, threats, and vandalism.
Through this I have learned a great deal about ego and leaders building their own kingdoms and promoting their models and logos as superior. I have seen pastors destroy their offices and go out on stage and preach on love, unity, and forgiveness. I have had people come to my church and tell me, if I would just go to this church and watch how the pastor does things, it would help our church grow. I have seen the superego, where a pastor has proclaimed that God has chosen them and their church model to be the example to the rest of the pastors and organizations in the local area, nation, and world. Often, when I hear these proclamations, I start to cringe, I wonder how the congregation can go along with this.
Leaving the Main Line
In 2012 I was in bible college and had been traveling in ministry for youth and young adult conferences. As much as I appreciated this season in my life, I felt something was missing. During this time in bible college, I fell in love with Jesus and started down a new path. As many felt I was throwing away my future in ministry, I wanted to experience Jesus in a more relational way. However, the Lord saw this and invited me into a deeper place with Him. In time, the Lord gave me a church plant and I am considered a missional church in a rural area. Our church is very simple, as there is no major vision, building project, or merchandise. Only 15-20 people get baptized each year. We just minister to the needs of the people and local community.
Through this program and the effects of anxiety and fear from Covid these last, almost four years, we see that many leaders, organizations, and people, in general, have not handled things well. Often they lash out and try to hurt or sabotage your efforts. I found myself in a place of frustration at times as I have been ridiculed from the larger churches, and yet crucified and slandered by others for saying no. By the end of 2022 I no longer wanted to pastor my church, I was struggling to love.
Through this program, I have learned a great deal about leadership, what I can control and what I can’t control. I can do my best to protect myself and my flock from the attacks of the enemy, however sometimes things get through the defenses. We see that in JR Woodward’s book The Scandal of Leadership that many leaders are simply hurting. Often they do not have the time or resources to properly heal. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have made it through this time without the DLGP and relationships. So many times, I could of self destructed. So many times I wanted too. I once heard a pastor who ministered for 50 years refer to this as pastoral suicide. Wanting to be released from their role, but also not wanting to quit. So they end up committing an act of self sabotage or pastoral/leadership suicide.
I have come back to spiritual disciplines this last year and that we need to keep coming to the cross, being healed, learning, growing, and being transformed. Woodward outlines a comprehensive outline of the abuses in leadership, especially in the church. However, while reading this book I am inspired by two prior books we have read from Tod Bolsinger Tempered Resilience and Leadersmithing by Eve Poole. In the first year of this program, I came to the conclusion that if I did not spend time apart, I would come apart. I found that in many trials through Covid, that I did not like the internal feelings I felt towards people and situations.
In Oxford, listening to Simon Walker and Martin Piercy, I realized there were just some things out of my control. Simon Walker shared with us a picture of his broken bike. This picture summed up what I have gone through during Covid and trying to put something that was once great back together again. In leadership, we have to come to a place that it is okay to withdraw and take some time to heal, forgive, learn, and get back on the bike. In W00dwards book, I am reminded of the old saying, never sit under a pastor/leader who does not have a limp or been broken. Let those perils turn into pearls as Eve Poole would say.
 JR Woodward Scandal of Leadership: Unmasking the Powers of Domination in the Church, by JR Woodward (100 Movements Publishing
 Tod Bolsinger, Tempered Resilience, How Leaders Are Formed In The Crucible of Change. Intervarsity Press, 2020.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading with Nothing to Lose: Training in the Exercise of Power, Carlisle: Piquant Editions, 2007.
 Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London Oxford New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business 2017