leaders need emotional support

Do the Leaders in Your Church Need Emotional Support?

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It may sound too severe a statement, but I’ll venture it anyway: if our aim is human health and wholeness, our society seems to construct some very damaging systems. In particular, we set up communities where we commune as little as possible.

Having a vehicle to drive is a blessing of efficiency. But that very efficiency is gained at the expense of any real communication with the many people we drive by each day to work or on errands or even to school. Our errands and many jobs reflect the same conveyor belt design that gets people through the process quickly but doesn’t lend itself to community. There seems to be a determined anonymity in the design.

Perhaps you have family and some friends from school that you do meet with. Do you meet in person? Or it mostly texting and scrolling through a feed on social media? Perhaps you have great, healthy, growing relationships. Maybe you meet with people in person regularly and have edifying conversations. The point of the above is that if you have that, you’ve had to cut against the grain and find others who are willing to as well.

How Close Are You to Those in Your Church?

Unfortunately, the church more often reflects the culture rather than Christ. We have our comfortable boxes and arm’s-length acquaintances. We may say, “Happy Sabbath” or “paz a vos” very cheerfully. We may give a warm handshake or an appropriate side hug, and make small talk, but how close are you to those in your church?

Perhaps you have one or two good connections that go deeper than others. However, that’s probably the case between co-workers too. Is being in proximity and willing to chat resulting in deeply engaging, edifying relationships that spur you to continual growth in Christ and walking with each other? If you can say yes, hallelujah, but that doesn’t seem to be the normal American experience.

What Are the Leaders’ Needs?

Think now about the congregational leader. How many people are involved in the life of the leader as a friend? How many people check on the leader only to see how they are doing, not to ask a question or report a crisis or seek advice?

How many people know their leader on a real personal level and fellowship at their house as a friend, not a church event? How many people are a blessing to the leader and give them rest and prayer support and send them encouragement and cards? Don’t think just about pastors when I say “leader.” What about the Board members and the ministry leaders at all levels?

The Christian Leader Is Very Lonely

Perhaps you are part of a church where this occurs and everything is great, but by and large, the American Christian Leader is very lonely, and the system constructed around them–called the church–is a big reason. The leader is often alone in their thoughts, can’t share their struggles, and doesn’t hear much encouragement.

Sometimes people will respond to this realization by overcompensating and talking a lot at their leaders and telling them how great a job they are doing, but this still misses the real issue. The leader needs a community of relationships. They need true friendships that grow and are dynamic. They need people to love and challenge them. They need mercy, but not pity.

They need people who will be honest with them and hold counsel with them on church and personal concerns. Leaders need people they trust as friends. So often, it’s a lonely road.

Leaders need people they trust as friends. – Brian Franks Click To Tweet

Consider Jesus’ Example of Leadership

Consider Jesus’ example of leadership. He and his twelve disciples, including his eventual betrayer Judas, lived life together. I imagine as they traveled from town to town that they found a home to stay in and, as was ancient home design, laid their beds in the same room and talked late at night. I think we have some of these conversations in the Gospel accounts.

They probably slept outside or on flat roofs under the stars sometimes. They went to synagogues with Jesus, to the Temple, to the market, to big cities and villages, and to the countryside. They crossed lakes and rivers with him. They saw him preach and heal and do miracles, and debate. They ate together too! For years they were with him, probably all the time.

This is to say nothing of the wider group of followers beyond the twelve. Much the same could be said of the Apostle Paul and the missionary teams he was part of and the churches he built. Now, Jesus was single and most of the twelve disciples were too, so this dynamic can’t be copied exactly.

What Values and Principles Should We Embody?

But what if the principles of Jesus’ leadership were practiced at church today as they were in the early churches? What if the church today stopped and intentionally asked what values and principles we should embody in our fellowship?

What if the leader and the church took time (it takes a lot of time) together to dig into the struggles of life? What if we were honest with each other and slowed down and listened more? What if we lived life together, not for the church calendar and program but out of a Christ-like genuine love?

This doesn’t seem to be occurring in many churches of whichever denomination. Sometimes I see a distinct will to build walls and space between leaders and “members” (such a business-y word). There is a politeness and there is the appearance of fellowship, but it doesn’t go deep. We reflect our culture rather than our Christ.

God Intends for Us to Have More!

This critique might sound harsh, but there is certainly plenty of hope to look forward to. I believe strongly that God intends for us to have more! The church is supposed to be exactly where wholeness and blessings should be experienced.

I envision churches that are a blessing to each other and leaders who feel deeply supported. Where we say “brother” and “sister” not out of habit or expectation, but out of genuine love and relationship. It’s just hard to go that direction when we don’t see how bankrupt some of the current practices and results are.

I envision churches that are a blessing to each other and leaders who feel deeply supported. – Brian Franks Click To Tweet

If any of this rings true for you and your life, consider taking the class, The Leader’s Emotional Health. At Artios, there are many leaders in many areas and levels of the church. This is not a class just for pastors, but mothers and fathers who lead, children, youth, and worship ministry leaders, and even future leaders of all kinds.

Let our community reflect Christ’s leadership and support.

Find more information on obtaining better emotional health for leaders, below:

    • Check out Artios Christian College here.
    • Register for LEA 211 The Leader’s Emotional Health here.
    • Check out the Early Winter term course schedule here.
    • Visit the Artios Center for Vibrant Leadership here.
    • Sponsorships are available in some districts. Email Registrar Makayla Ross at registrar@artioscollege.org for more information.
Brian Franks
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Brian Franks serves as dean of Academic Affairs for Artios Christian College and as pastor of the Tulsa, OK Church of God (Seventh Day). Brian is a graduate of LifeSpring School of Ministry (predecessor to Artios). He has served as an instructor for Artios and holds a master’s in Education in Online Curriculum and Instruction. He is scheduled to complete a master’s in Divinity in April 2023. He is married and has four children.