In a recent post, I suggested three practical steps to addressing burnout (and potential isolation) in leadership:

  1. Leaders must own their past areas of brokenness and address them.
  2. They must find healthy ways to express emotions, and safe places to do so.
  3. They should pursue rhythms of reflection and Sabbath.

Several readers later affirmed that these topics might, indeed, merit further discussion.

Let’s dive deeper into the first one, keeping in mind that our intention is not to present an “Easy 3-Step Formula,” but to pursue wholeness. Brokenness often stems from leadership crisis, complexity, betrayal, loneliness, weariness, and even admiration. This vulnerability, if not addressed, can unveil our leadership “dark sides.”

In 2007, McIntosh & Rima identified some of these common “dark sides.”

  • Compulsive leaders may use control, order, and perfection to try and cover brokenness.
  • Narcissistic leaders sometimes place image, approval, and admiration above integrity and friendships.
  • Paranoid leaders can allow insecurities to dominate, driving them to constantly fear the success of others.
  • Codependent leaders might cover up problems for the sake of keeping the peace, even resulting in tolerance of unhealthy behaviors.
  • Passive-Aggressive leaders often possess an underlying skepticism about life, whose symptoms include resistance to change and manipulative use of emotion.

While we all possess dark side tendencies, there are ways to acknowledge and address them.

In the Kingdom of God, it is not the past that defines us, but the future. The Apostle Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [she] is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17, ESV).

I previously shared a bit of my struggle with depression/anxiety. In light of Christ, I no longer consider myself a depressed person, but rather, a redeemed son who experienced depression as a part of my journey.

Acknowledging the past helps free leaders from the power of brokenness and move forward in new identity. Is there a place of brokenness that you might acknowledge to experience God’s grace today?

Daniel Gluck serves as Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Jessup, and Lead Faculty for the B.A. in Christian Leadership program.