Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Leadership Pain

Written by: on April 11, 2018

Leadership Pain by Samuel R. Chand immediately became one of my favorite reads of this semester, partly because it was a book genre I was most familiar with. A straightforward leadership book, with equal parts inspiration, principles, and application. The thesis of Chand’s Leadership Pain is simple, “Growth=Change, Change=Loss, and Loss=Pain. Therefore Growth=Pain”[1] Such a simple formula. It makes me reassess the weight of the phrase, “we are going to grow this church.” Now when I say or hear phrases like that, I immediately think, “oh no, what will I have to mourn?” Chand discovers that the leaders who reached the top were the ones who could withstand the most pain, and this book is about increasing your threshold of pain. In one of the most memorable parts of the book for me Chand writes that he used to think Leaders did not see all the holes in their ministry and all the way efficiency and effectiveness was seeping out the organization. But now he realizes, “they saw it all.” They simply were not willing to pay the pain it would take to change it. I can resonate with that. Immediately I thought of all the things I had compromised on because it was good enough, and I knew it would be too difficult or painful to bring about true excellence in that field. Having read the many testimonies part of this book that preluded each chapter, I honestly wonder how much leadership pain I could tolerate. I physically was pained when I read of the associates pastor meeting at their own personal house church and taking offerings when the senior pastor was on vacation.[2]

God please don’t call me that high up the leadership food chain. I can’t stomach it.

But yet I pray, “not my will, but yours be done.”

Leadership Pain is a book that is pertinent to many different levels of leadership experience and positions. Right now I’m involved in discussing this book on three different levels. First in this Doctoral program, second as part of the leadership development within my church’s pastoral staff, and thirdly its a book I’m taking my Pathway “Apprentices” through. An Apprentice, is what we call our students who are placed in leadership positions at local churches and go through a 1-year long discipleship process together. This book has been engaging on each of these levels, which I think speaks of its universal applicability. Everyone involved in influencing people knows the pain of leadership. This is because I think people are always a risk. You bring someone on your team and they suck, or they let you down you, or they intentionally betray you.

I see this book as an essential leadership read for all leaders. An essential book to read, hopefully early on.

Just knowing you will have pain will significantly reduce burn out rate. I think of the sales peoples who studied psychology and know that almost everyone experiences some level of buyers remorse when they make a major life decision or make an enormous purchase. Salespeople learned that by just educating their customers that their feelings of remorse were normal, it would significantly cut back on the amount of cancellations and returns. In the same way if we are able to tell leaders going into their first positions of influence that pain is NORMAL, I think it may prevent a lot more burn out.

Recently one of our new pastors at our church experienced his first loss in ministry. Some people left the church over something he said. Ouch. What hurt more is that he was in the right, and what hurt most is that we don’t have the privilege to share our side of the story from the pulpit to the rest of the congregation. It was painful for him to walk through, and at the same time, totally expected. It had happened to everyone else at the table multiple times. The sad part is that this pastor carried this discouragement alone for a couple weeks as he tried to handle it himself, all the while thinking, “I must be a horrible leader for all of this to have happened.” But after having reached out to the team for assistance he experienced a level of acceptance and encouragement because of the shared pain around the table.

Despite all this pain discussed in this book, I highlight appreciated Chand’s chapter entitled The Privilege of Leadership. I don’t think we should walk around as martyrs and “WO is me” for this pain I’ve fastened on to me in the name of Jesus. Despite of this difficulty ahead of us, Leadership is still great privilege to follow that calling that God has given us. Jesus’ calling to be a Christian is “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”[3] and at the same time,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”[4] Although I don’t think it’s as direct of a spiritual promise, I think there is a similar tension of this in leadership. It’s the most painful thing you will ever do, and at the same time it is one of the most exhilarating and fulfilling vocations that exists in our fallen world today.

I think this applies to my dissertation because I think it applies to our time as Doctoral Students. Are you wanting a Doctoral degree? Are you willing to pay the pain it will take to get it? Many of my friends golf more, see more movies, go on more vacations, because they are using their resources to NOT get a Doctoral program. It’s painful to see myself “missing out”. I think our cohort is right on to read this book in the first year of our program, as our real work of writing our dissertation is still ahead of us.




Works Cited

Chand, Samuel R. Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015.


[1] Samuel R. Chand, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015).

[2] Samuel R. Chand, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015).

[3] Matthew 1624

[4] Matthew 11:28-30

About the Author

Kyle Chalko

2 responses to “Leadership Pain”

  1. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Thanks to your commitment to earning your Doctorate!

    This book was also one of my favorites, and I think I will make it recommended reading for all 107 of the pastors in our conference.

    Any thoughts on Chand’s phrase “You will only grow to the threshold of your pain’?

  2. Shawn Hart says:

    Kyle, you touched on the other consequence of the ministry…that feeling of being alone. Your story of the minister at your church resonated a lot with me because I have always understood that far too well. I fear we feel pain, but do not want to inflict that pain upon others…so we lock it inside and suffer. And for some regard…that pain is almost the reality of the ministry. I grew up seeing my father’s words used against him, fights between my parents used as leverage for dismissal, and even one of my sister’s getting pregnant out of wedlock becoming a disgrace for the whole family. So when trouble strikes…ministers tend to keep it to themselves. I am not sure if that is falling on our spiritual swords or just stupid logic, but it is definitely a struggle of the job.

    I commend you on your team’s ability to embrace rather than shun and discourage.

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