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

Why Do Banks Make Churches Take out Life Insurance Policies on Lead Pastors?

Written by: on November 15, 2018

In my stewardship role, I was often surprised at lending institutions when they made churches going through building campaigns take out massive life insurance policies on the lead pastor.  The longer I am in leadership and financial circles, the more it makes sense. If something happens to the Lead Pastor, there is a high probability that the bank is going to get stuck with that loan. It seems Manfred F.R. Kets De Vries understands this well, when he writes in The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Experience,

“Leaders do make a difference…Even the stock market pays close attention to corporate leadership, with share prices of any given organization influenced by the perceived effectiveness of the leader…” [1]

As I first read around this book (thanks Adler), I noticed we had another Dutchman author, and a brilliant one at that. Being Dutch, I am perfectly fine with this author! Then I absolutely cracked up when learning about the author it was said, “He was the first fly fisherman in Outer Mongolia.” [2] Ha! My brother lived as a missionary in Outer Mongolia, and the locals there believe the fish are inhabited by bad spirits, so NO ONE FISHES in Outer Mongolia. My brother saw huge salmon who had never seen a single fisherman, so catching those fish would be like fishing in your bathtub. Even Dan Kreiss could catch a fish on a fly in Outer Mongolia (grin).

Now to the meat of this book.

“People who are emotionally intelligent are more likely to be effective as leaders.” [3]

Wowza, I wondered what this so called “emotional intelligence” was?  I was relieved there was no silver bullet “quick fix” answer to that question (See, I did learn from last week’s author Friedman). He described emotional intelligence as a PROCESS, and an experiential one at that. Whew! I might have a chance then, especially with the assistance of a spouse, friend, colleague, leadership coach, therapist or other professional who can help make me aware of my blind spots and how I interact with others.

I was impressed the author talked about potential dark sides of each of us, which reminded me of McIntosh in Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Evidently, of the ten “personality types” I am closest to the obsessive/compulsive, which means while I am very conscientious, I could be preoccupied with orderliness, perfectionism, control and conformity. I also could be interpersonally respectful, but perhaps rigid and dogmatic. [4] Yep, the dark side of my leadership.

Couple that with my predominant “defense reaction” of suppression, and I maybe should go take a different DMin program, one that is not associated with leadership. Of course, I am not going to do that–I am so glad to be in this program with exactly the people I get to be with. I also hope my competencies are improving, and my character is reliable.

By the way, on several occasions during Zoom chats we have shown how we scored on the enneagram test. I have done multiple personality tests, but not this one, and I felt clueless and behind the times, so I finally took the enneagram this week (in my spare time), and scored as a 3. I am learning more what this means, and what the other scores mean. I remember several of us also scored a 3, so at least I am not weird, and definitely not Portland weird.


The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious [5].

Yes, the chapter from De Vries on change was a good one (don’t be the mussel in your organization), and the failure factor chapter was fascinating (we are all irrational), as was the chapter on the Dilbert phenomenon (don’t be a Dilbert), but the chapter I wanted to most read was the one on “Characteristics of Effective Leadership”, chapter 8.

My take away from this key chapter is simply this–I have always been taught to be a SERVANT LEADER. Jesus was supposedly a servant leader. Scripture says, in three places, these powerful descriptors of Jesus,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” [6] Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, John 13:1-17.

However, I did not see this descriptor from our author. He talked much about competencies, of which I agree (surgency, sociability, receptivity, agreeableness, dependability, analytical intelligence, and emotional intelligence). [7] But, no mention of specific servant leadership.  The only thing I could find even closely related to this was in chapter 9, Leadership in a Global Context, where my brilliant Dutchman author recognized that leadership cultures must recognize “relationships” in our leadership styles, specifically, if we can be collectivistic and cooperative [8].

In Christian circles, we would probably describe this part of relationships as being “servant” type leaders. Or maybe I should go back and read the title of this book again, which includes Mystique, which is implies to me that defining effective leadership is somewhat of a mystery…



[1] Kets De Vries, Manfred F. R. The Leadership Mystique. Fontainebleau, France: INSEAD, 1994. 2.

[2] Ibid., ix.

[3] Ibid., 6.

[4] Ibid., 12.

[5] Hudson, Russ. “The Nine Enneagram Type Descriptions.” The Enneagram Institute. 2017. Accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/.

[6] Barker, Kenneth L. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.

[7] Kets De Vries. 172-173.

[8] Ibid., 177.

[9] Haddleton, Guy. “What Is Servant Leadership?” Project Manager. 2018. Accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.projectmanager.com/.

About the Author

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

10 responses to “Why Do Banks Make Churches Take out Life Insurance Policies on Lead Pastors?”

  1. Kyle Chalko says:

    Hey jay. Love the servant leadership checklist. I want to do a leadership lesson on that list to my interns and students.

    As a fellow 3 it’s a good thing for me to focus on as well!

  2. Hey Jay, welcome to the “3” club, you are in good company with Kyle, Trisha, myself, and a few others I can’t remember right now. We are the doers and achievers and will get things done when push comes to shove. I enjoyed your post and glad you focused on the aspect of emotional intelligence because although it is a very misunderstood concept, it is highly important for us to be effective leaders. IQ alone doesn’t quite cut it. Enjoyed your servant leadership checklist as well. Blessings my friend!

  3. Greg says:

    I am with you on not fully understanding the enneagram thing….I think I am a 5…need to understand it more myself. I appreciated you focusing on servant leaders…I do think having a good understanding of yourself (I think without arrogance) helps a leader be able to balance the temptations to just into the friedman triangles or isolating oneself from anything that might interfere with ones own agenda.

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Thanks Greg for the reminder on the Freidman triangles. That was a major point of last week for me, and I needed to hear it again. Blessings to you my Brother!

  4. M Webb says:

    Excellent introduction and tie into the financial stewardship side of your dissertation. You must have a lot of faith in Dan’s fishing abilities! I guess as long as he wears a hat.
    EI is good to understand, but I think comes naturally to you from what I have seen. Focus on your strengths, like Kyle said in his post, and keep a couple of trusted confidants around you to watch your “6”, but always keep full throttle, afterburner if you like F-4’s, and move forward.
    I am always suspicious of personality type tests, but like you I gave in to our Portland theme and took the E test. I am a 3 with a 4 bias on the test.
    Thanks for the review on the Servant Leader Checklist. It works for me most of the time too. I have found when you have to be the final authority in a responsibility-accountability type of situation you sometimes have to be more vertical chain-of-command type of leading. For example, in the high-risk low frequency scenarios like public safety or military combat the situation might need a dose of authority until the threat is resolved and the leader can relax back into the more servant type of role. Christ was a servant leader, but he also led by example and did the hard things leaders must do by themselves.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  5. Dave Watermulder says:

    Thanks for the joy and confidence with which you write. Even as you explore the new territory of a book like this, you move into it as yourself, you don’t take yourself too seriously, but do seriously engage and try to see where to locate yourself and your ministry context within the book. Examples include your teasing of Dan about fishing, stories from Outer Mongolia, sharing your Enneagram type, and dutifully utilizing our other readings in your post. It makes for an enjoyable post– so thank you!

  6. Dan Kreiss says:


    Ouch-that hurt. Lol. No doubt my fly-fishing skills are a bit rusty having been away from New Zealand for a few years but anytime you want to travel to Mongolia to give is a whirl I’m your man!

    You are definitely in the correct D Min program as your leadership is consistently evident and clearly also recognized by your denomination. I had not noticed the lack of ‘servant’ leadership in this text but think it overlaps with some of the other characteristics he addresses. What is the area of the book that you feel most strongly that you would like to direct your pastors to engage with?

  7. Jean Ollis says:

    I had no idea that churches are required to take out life insurance policies…how fascinating (but I have to admit it makes sense when you think about a mortgage possibly defaulting with a pastoral change). I’ve never asked where your interest in your research topic of financial stewardship began? I sense there’s more to the story than just pastoring?

    How do you hope to integrate this text and its leadership model into our Biblical call to servant leadership? For me, I see servant leadership as wonderful, except that leaders (even servant leaders) without skills can do more harm than good. I’m always anxious to hear your thoughts :)…

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