DMINLGP

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

Wish I Had Half of Dan’s Courage

Written by: on March 1, 2018

I don’t normally read my fellow Elite LGP8 Blogs before writing my own, but this week I confess, I did. I wish I had half of Dan’s courage–brutal honesty, open transparency, personally laying it out there like he did. His is an example of not just trying to get a degree, but actually striving to become a better person while earning his DMin. I am inspired by Dan and his willingness to talk about codependency and burnout. He has raised the bar for all of us and I would publicly like to thank him.

Once again, I was trying to use Adler’s strategy of seeking first to UNDERSTAND an author’s perspective (from How To Read A Book)[1], so I was doing my homework and digesting as many outside sources as possible before actually reading every word of this week’s eye-poking book, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima [2].

I was impressed when respectful GIANTS like Andy Stanley, HB London, John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Tim LaHaye and Jack Hayford referenced McIntosh in their own books [3].  I also enjoyed excerpts from our book’s co-author, Rima, in another writing titled Leading from the Inside Out [4].

My first thought when I read our title and the words “the dark side”, of course I thought of Darth Vader. Probably all of our minds went that way. However, immediately following that, I remembered the Scripture, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” [5] Mike will most certainly and appropriately talk more about this.

And when I read the words in our sub-title, “confronting potential failures”, I thought of this Scripture, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” [6]

But alas, I am stalling. I should be open about what I feel the book exposed in me, which unfortunately was more than I want to admit.  The words that haunted me the most centered around the paraphrased statement that said those things in us that have been used mightily to achieve great things, are probably the very same things that will overtake us from the dark side.

What are some of my strengths that have come in handy? Being driven, being aggressive, working harder and longer hours, goal oriented, having high standards…

How are these same traits dangerous from the dark side? Pride, selfishness, self-absorbed, wrong motives, perfectionism, approval seeking, people pleaser…

Guilty as charged!  That’s me on both the good and the bad. Just being honest.

So, I took the inventories at the back of the chapters and cringed at the accuracies for my own persona–I have a little bit of every one of these starting five! Compulsive, narcissistic, paranoid, codependent and passive-aggressive. [7] My highest was being compulsive, tainted by wanting to maintain order and control at all costs, at the same time of repressing anger, while building up in resentment. [8] Ouch!

Thankfully, the book doesn’t end there. I was extremely grateful for that fact. Although I was not fully able to wrap my mind around the “spiritual composting” metaphor [9], I was able to latch onto a couple facets of REDEEMING and OVERCOMING the dark side (with the help of the Holy Spirit, thankfully):

               Acknowledging my dark side [10]

and

Resisting the poison of expectations [11].

I now better understand how I am wired after reading this book. That I have a deep fear of disappointing God and others. That I have given myself over to the power and pain of trying to live up to other people’s expectations. I also want to thankfully admit that a bunch of Dark Siders made the Bible.  I am extremely grateful knuckleheads were included, like Solomon, David, Samson, Jonah, Saul, and my favorite, the compulsive MOSES. [12]

Please don’t get me wrong, I understand my identity in Christ, I know God works in spite of us, I feel God’s love, but boy-Oh-boy did this book work me over, for the better, and for that I am appreciative.

 

[1] Adler, Mortimer Jerome, and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.

[2] McIntosh, Gary L., and Samuel D. Rima. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures. New Dehli: Good Times Books, Kindle Edition, 2010.

[3] Macintosh, Gary, and Samuel Rima. “Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership.” Google Scholar. Accessed February 28, 2018. http://www.scholar.google.com/.

[4] Rima, Samuel D. Leading from the inside Out: The Art of Self-leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

[5] Ephesians 6:12 (NIV).

[6] II Timothy 3:2-5 (NIV)

[7] McIntosh, Gary L., and Samuel D. Rima. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures. New Dehli: Good Times Books, Kindle Edition, 2010. Loc., 1265, 1356, 1459, 1558, 1721.

[8] Ibid., Loc 1332.

[9] Ibid., Loc. 1949.

[10] Ibid., Loc. 2018.

[11] Ibid., Loc. 2215.

[12] Ibid., Loc. 1274.

 

About the Author

mm

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.

11 responses to “Wish I Had Half of Dan’s Courage”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    Thanks for the Armor of God plug and reference to the battle not being against flesh and blood. If you live long enough as a leader, most of us go thru all the dark-side challenges. Hopefully, prayerfully, and submissively we can take enough 2×4’s to the side of the head that we “get-it” sometimes. The more I absorb and discern as we move forward in our LGP studies, the more time I spend on my knees to humbly seek the wisdom, discernment, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
    I think you have a healthy perspective on your connection to this book. While I like it, it needs to be taken in perspective to the positive sides of leadership too. It is negatively biased, for a reason of course, but it must be taken in context to our strengths. If all we do is focus on fixing our faults, then our strengths are generally diminished, and what a great strategy for Satan to give us…..focus on your weaknesses, you are not worthy, how could you every please God, or your congregation, look at you….you narcissist, you paranoid.
    So, all of that to say please apply balance and perspective on their book.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  2. mm Jennifer Williamson says:

    Thanks for your transparency Jay. And I agree, the point of the book is not to wallow in the dark side but to experience God’s great redemptive power as we surrender these aspects of our brokenness to God.

    What would it look like for you to resist the poison of expectations?

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Great question Jenn, and for me not surrendering to the expectations of others would be summed up in a few short words–AS UNTO THE LORD. Easier said than done, if I am being completely honest…

  3. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Jay,
    I too was really taken aback by Dan’s post and appreciated his honesty. I also loved seeing your honesty though and just coming out and saying your biggest dark side. Great point about all those knuckleheads and thats encouragement that God can still choose to use us. Hopefully he wont just use us as a warning sign for others!

  4. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jay,
    Thank you for your vulnerability in writing your book. Self-awareness is key…those who fail to assess themselves accurately fall into the dark side of leadership. I encourage you to check out Brene Brown’s work – I cited her in my blog. She’s an expert on vulnerability, courage, and shame. I think you would enjoy her work. I agree with Mike – balance is key, both in your take-away from this text and in your work-life balance. Thank you for your poignant words!

    • mm Jay Forseth says:

      Thanks for your recommendation Jean. I had not heard of Brene Brown, so that will be good for me to check out.

      Thanks again for your contributions to our Zoom meetings!

  5. Jay,

    Thanks for sharing your heart here. I just mentioned to Jason in a comment that I really have benefited from hiring a therapist and working with her through some issues at a very dark time in my life. I believe it gave me the tools to become more self-aware as Jean mentions.

    Currently I have a commitment with a spiritual director who I meet with monthly. Yesterday we met and talked about ‘composting’ – the idea I mention in my blog post. If we can cast off the dark side’s pesky habits and corrosive ways of thinking, we will be healthier leaders. It often takes an outside professional to help us get there.

  6. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jay,

    I think you give me too much credit, as usual. You are a generous man to say those things. I really had nothing else to write as for me life has spun out of control and this book served to help me understand why. I guess it was timely, though 3 or 4 years ago might have been more timely, though I am not sure I would have heard it as clearly.

    It is good that you took the surveys at the back and found some of your own weaknesses. Those things that have obviously served you well as you have been a strong leader in a variety of situations and now your denomination has called you to an even more important platform. With the insight you gained from reading this text you will certainly be more alert to your own biases and be better able to keep those aspects in balance as you seek to lead with the humility of Jesus. I am so thankful that God had us room together in Capetown. I feel a special connection with you and am grateful for your brotherhood.

  7. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Jay,
    Man, you really shine the light in the dark places of your soul, that takes a strong person to not only look inward but to take steps to address these things. I always appreciate the humble manner in which you write, but I think deep down your analysis is as spot on as it can be. Thanks for your transparency and how you react to the reading.

    Jason

  8. Dave Watermulder says:

    Hey Jay,
    Thanks for this post and for sharing personally about this. I suspect this book had a big affect on many of us, and our inner struggles as leaders– maybe that’s what has pushed us to be part of this DMin in the first place! I saw a lot of myself (and most pastoral leaders that I look up to) in what you described as your dark side tendencies… Those run deep.

  9. Shawn Hart says:

    First Jay, I am not sure I have ever known a true leader that didn’t suffer from those five characteristics mentioned in this reading. Second, I believe that fear of failure can be a great motivator, and it is the ability to embrace that rather than be destroyed by that it, that can lead to a successful ministry. Yoda once said, “I sense much fear in you;” a comment you just made concerning yourself. So how do you see yourself using this knowledge of yourself to improve as a minister?

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