I’m going to come clean about an addiction here. I’m addicted to podcasts. Seriously can’t get enough! Right now my greatest addiction is the Carey Nieuwhof podcast. You should listen to it, like, every day.

But seriously, I wanted to share one that really struck a nerve with me. Recently Carey interviewed Pete Scazzero, author of (among others) The Emotionally Healthy Leader. If you’ve got an hour to kill driving or jogging or whatever, you should give it a listen.

I think the take-home for me was a theme that God has been continually pressing into me the past several years. It is this idea that people pleasing will lead to burnout and frustration. People pleasing leads me to avoid conflict rather than lovingly addressing issues that will fester in my heart if I don’t. It leads me to keep quiet when really I should, as a leader, speak up even if I think others may disagree. It can also lead me to put my family second, or third, or fourth – instead of keeping my priorities straight in life.

People pleasing is just one way for us to be emotionally unhealthy. I think the point of the interview (I haven’t read the book yet) is that self awareness is the beginning. Too often we, as leaders, are self-unaware, and therefore entrapped by our emotional sickness, unable to get free and be the leaders (let alone the people!) they we are meant to be. Pete and Carey pressed the point home that our emotional health isn’t just a side issue of minimal importance.  In fact, it impacts the issues we would all naturally consider “important” like pastoring others, leading others, creating vision, leading teams, and launching leaders. Here are two quotes that hit home:

Who you are is way more important than what you do.


Work on you first, before you work on anyone else.

This idea of making sure we are healthy so we can truly minister God’s love to others is a powerful reminder. It’s like when you fly in an airplane and they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. I recently saw this meme about that and it said, “You can’t help people if you’re dead!” Good point, right?

For me it starts with people pleasing. This verse has been a major help/challenge: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10).

For you it maybe something else? What is driving you that isn’t God or isn’t healthy? Take time to become self aware so you can address it rather than burying it. Take time to take care of yourself, so that while taking care of others, you don’t lose yourself. Even Paul recognizes this need:

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:2-27)

Take some time this week to listen to the podcast and then, to listen to yourself. If you struggle with being self aware, maybe ask a trusted friend. Our hope isn’t to just last in ministry for a few years. We want to last for the long haul!

Christian Dunn
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