DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on October 18, 2017

Books on leadership usually focus on how to be an effective leader through guidance and direction. They will share skills and techniques to help you become successful. There are leadership books that help you with time management. For example, the Leadership an Art by  DePree stated “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.” (11) [1]  He was demonstrating how to be an effective leader by leading with a servant attitude. Then there is the book Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowey who provided the traits of a leader. Lowney believes one must do a self-check of ourselves. 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.” [2]  Now we are presented with Failure of Nerve that reflects the issues of a leader. This book is what to watch out for, or this is why they are the way they are. Everyone has probably experienced a leader like this, or maybe you are that leader.

When I was in management, and there was the male leader giving others hell, we would say, ‘He has no authority at home, so he is taking it out on his employees.’ Friedman is sharing the reason or reality behind the hostile leader. He spoke about working in a hostile environment. Emotional Triangle was a theme. This is where a person has different challenges they are trying to manage conflict: family, stress, work, etc. Friedman says, “Emotional triangles form because of the inherent instability of two-person relationships.” (Kindle, Location 3694-3695) When interacting with conflict within or outside that relationship, it becomes an emotional triangle. We tend to move our attention to the problems as well as invite them into other parts of our lives. The outward reaction from this can lead to outburst, anger problems, self-medicating with substance, domestic violence, and other damaging impacts. Friedman believes that the emotional triangles (1) are self-organizing; (2) are perpetuated by distance, and (3) tend to be perverse. (Kindle, 3763, 3782, and 3796)  For example, “The harder A works at changing the relationship of B and C, the more likely it is that their relationship will move in the opposite direction.” (Kindle, 3796)

In the Christian world, we have leaders who are experiencing emotional triangles. The news exposes them periodically. Pastors with marital affairs, misuse of church funds, substance abuse, predators just to name a few. Pastors are at times providing emotional support to their congregation and family but often have no one they can identify as a support system. We as leaders but acknowledge that we have weaknesses and we need to seek in addition to the kingdom, those of wise counsel to help us prepare, survive, and recover from our storm.




[1] Max Depree, Leadership the Art, New York: Crown Business, May 2004, Kindle, pg. 11.

[2] Chris Lowney, Heroic Leadership, Chicago: Loyola Press, February 2009, Kindle, Location 2866

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

7 responses to “TRIANGLE LEADERSHIP”

  1. Mary Walker says:

    I loved your cartoon! Yes, this is one more book. Your comparison to our other leadership books helped me put it into perspective.
    There were some great take-aways, but I admit I am not sure why we are stuck in the triangles. What about the Holy Spirit?
    So we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We an use the idea of triangles to explain why things might be the way they are. But I’m thankful we have the Father’s Word, the Life of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us!

  2. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    Emotional triangles are another way to explain how we as people relate to one another in conflict. It is true that it is poisonous and leads to more detriment among people groups. When leaders engage in these triangles it magnifies the conflict by placing the pressure on the leader to become an instant hero and a fixer. In doing so, quick fixes are a desperate attempt to keep from drowning deeper into the drama.

    I do agree with Mary that there must be some reliance on the inter-working and indwelling on the Holy Spirit in our lives as leaders.

  3. Lynda Gittens says:

    Mary and Christal
    I agree with you both. Our problems overwhelm us because just maybe because we get ahead of the Holy Spirit and not invite him into our situations.

  4. Jim Sabella says:

    Lynda, you did a great job incorporating the other readings into the post. And you make a good point about triangles. Christal mentions emotional triangles. Friedman has already helped me in the leadership. Just this past week I was dealing with a difficult situation and I couldn’t understand the persons strong and negative reaction. I remembered Friedman. I tried to pull away emotionally and began to ask questions about the person’s past experiences etc. etc. I found out that though I was having a conversation with one person, because of triangulation there were more people in the conversation than I knew! I wasn’t able to solve the problem, but I became more aware of triangulation when dealing with difficult problems. I agree with you, Mary and Christial—we need the discerning power of the Holy Spirit and “we need to invite him into our situation.” Thanks Lynda!

  5. Kristin Hamilton says:

    I’m so glad you brought up the issues of triangles, Lynda. In every toxic situation I have ever encountered, there is a triangulation happening somewhere in the heart of the matter. People just can’t seem to talk directly to each other so they go to a third party for either “help” or commiseration. It’s just like the little kid who goes to dad when he can’t get the answer he wants from mom. As self-differentiated leaders, we have to make sure we don’t fall prey to these triangle and that we have the nerve to address them head-on in our organizations.

  6. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    “We as leaders but acknowledge that we have weaknesses and we need to seek in addition to the kingdom, those of wise counsel to help us prepare, survive, and recover from our storm.”

    Our scripture texts in worship this morning were God’s calling & anointing of David, coupled with his song of repentance (Ps 51)– a great reminder that all of us, especially leaders, have weaknesses, relationship problems, and sin. Wise counsel– such as David received from Nathan– help us navigate the storm. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

    This is so true “In the Christian world, we have leaders who are experiencing emotional triangles.” This also surfaces with “sharing for prayers” as we divulge secrets under the guise of prayers and break the trust of others. Emotional triangles are also called “Karpman’s Drama” as they create a dramatic nature where the vitim and the persecutor never resolve because they or one involves a third point, the rescuer. This is the making of every “good” soap opera and job security for therapists. Jesus knew what he was talking about when he instructed us in Matthew to go to the person first when there is a conflict. He was estabilishing a healthy connection versus an undending drama. Thanks for the good words.

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