Authors McIntosh and Rima wrote this book to open our minds and eyes to our truths. We all have a dark side (issues) that affect our lives, negatively and positively. We must acknowledge our dark side first in order to effectively address it. As leaders in the spiritual realm, we will be faced with opportunities to counsel and lead others. Can we effectively help others if we are not aware of our own issues? I remember a visiting preacher during our Good Friday Service said, “I have to preach harder through sermons that address my issues.”
According to the authors, we all have needs that should be addressed. They provided a pyramid by Maslow on behavioral reactions when needs are not met, for example, “when esteem is low, one experiences the feeling of incompetence, negativism, or feeling of inferiority.” (75) As a youth mentor, I have known this for years and I formed a not for profit organization to address this issue in our young people. We provide academic assistance that increases their self-esteem and allows them to receive the knowledge and skills they need to be successful academically and personally.
One’s dark side is developed through stages. “Stage One, Needs as presented in Maslow’s pyramid. Stage Two, Traumatic experiences when a need is not met. Stage Three, Existential debt, a desire to pay for personal failures. Stage Four, Dark side development, the result of the stages combined.” (79) When you add in a person’s “pride, selfishness, self-deception and wrong motives our dark side develops into a powerful, controlling influence in our lives and leadership.” (82) These can be an explosive combination. The author’s addressed several types of leaders that project a dark side. They were: Narcissistic Leader, Paranoid Leader, Codependent Leader and Passive-Aggressive Leader. There is a short survey that the reader can participate in to determine the type of leader you are. I rate as having some passive-aggressive tendencies. I wonder would those whom I supervised agree.
Maybe your dark side developed when you didn’t care anymore. Maybe when you were hurt. Maybe you wanted one more opportunity to experience that dark side before transforming to the light side. Maybe you keep busy so that you don’t have to address or think about that dark side. Whatever your choice of poison, your life may deteriorate if you don’t accept the antidote – transparence before yourself. In my youth, as a devoted soldier for the Lord, I experienced discouragement in relationships. God said he would give you the desires of your heart, well that didn’t happen for me. So I went rogue. I was disappointed and acted out for several years. I saw a dark side of myself that I never knew existed. After my years of tantrums, I realized that it wasn’t healthy in my relationship with God so I learned to subdue and finally reduce its effect in my everyday walk. God’s grace is sufficient during my weakness, and I thank him for covering me during those dark times. During the dark side, I was able to maintain my professionalism on my job and be an effective mom. I keep it undercover.
Author Lowney, states we must “(1) appreciate our own dignity and potential; (2) recognize our weaknesses that block that potential; (3) articulate our values that we stand for; (4) establish personal goals; (5) form a point of view on the world and how we will relate to others; and (6) see the wisdom and value in examine an commit to it.” I could not allow anyone to know what I was experiencing because I had my dignity. I knew that if I let it affect my job and family they both would have been destroyed.
The authors wrote, “you can never eradicate your dark side but you can subdue and overcome for significant periods of time.” (153) You can still be a great leader. You must exercise discipline in your life. Trebesch’s book, Isolation, speaks on ways to discipline your life in a spiritual way. The authors present a point of “spiritual composting – asking oneself to trust that one will eventually bear witness to what only God can do.” (161) The authors provided tools (five steps) to help one process through their truths about their dark side. They are:
- Step1. Acknowledge your dark side
- Step2. Examine the Past
- Step3. Resist to Poison of Expectations
- Step4. Practice Progressive Self-Knowledge
- Step5. Understand your Identity in Christ (165-219)
These steps appear to be what a therapist would say. Through self-examination and prayer, I applied all of those steps after my tantrum without realizing there were steps. While one is battling the dark side and trying to maintain dignity, remember to put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 6:12 says we fight against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.