Addiction ruins many pastors.
Philip Seymour Hoffman died with a heroin needle in his arm. That was his drug of choice, his means of escape from a life of futility.
Do you know the addiction that kills more ministries and churches than all others?
The Needy Pastor’s Drug of Choice
Praise and affirmation from other people.
It’s a subtle, powerful drug.
We’re all genetically predisposed to fall prey to its allure. We’re born needy of praise and affirmation because – by virtue of inherited sin nature – we’re isolated from the only One who can fully and finally satisfy these cravings.
Our attempts to quell the longings aggravate the compulsion. We strive to satisfy the need by trying to make ourselves praiseworthy in the eyes of others. “Works” move us further from satisfaction, peace and rest, which are found in God’s inexhaustible grace.
Turnaround Pastors are Immune
Emotional independence – not requiring the regular “fix” of praise from others – is a hallmark distinction of effective turnaround pastors. An emotionally independent minister is self-reliant. They aren’t emotionally dependent on others.
Independence is the ability to be self-directed and self-controlled in your thinking and actions and to be free of emotional dependency. Independent people are self-reliant in planning and making important decisions. They can stand on their own two feet. Independent people are able to function autonomouslyâ€š they avoid clinging to others in order to satisfy their emotional needs. The ability to be independent rests on one’s degree of self-confidence and inner strength, and the desire to meet expectations and obligations without becoming a slave to them. People who crave acceptance at any cost and are scared stiff of giving the slightest offense have grave difficulty exercising independence.
Does this sound odd, perhaps counterintuitive?
Aren’t pastors team players? Don’t they work through the system to help the church meet its goals?
Think for a moment. If a church is stagnant or in decline, isn’t it the pastor’s job to challenge the system, discard ineffective rules and rearrange the chairs? If she’s going to bring fresh hope and new life to a stagnant congregation, she’ll have to push changes on the system. The worst thing she can do in a failing church is to conform, to work inside the box.
Turnaround pastors can stand alone
Immunity doesn’t mean turnaround pastors don’t occasionally desire praise and affirmation. They do, but they know how to resist the temptation.
This immunity enables them to take full responsibility for the church’s welfare and man up – “the buck stops here.”
Needy pastors hooked on affirmation and praise fear giving offense. For them it is difficult to exercise independence, enforcing beneficial change when the personal cost is great.
But this is exactly the leadership behavior that plateaued and declining churches need from their pastors.
These books will reward you with great insight into a pastor’s need for affirmation and praise. They show the danger hidden in the addiction and suggest steps to go “cold turkey.”
- Kevin DeYoung. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem.
- Charles Stone People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership.
- Paul Tripp Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry.
What has helped you break the habit, setting you free from the powerful addiction to praise and adoration from the church?
- See Jared Roth. “The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Pastor Leadership in Turnaround Churches.” Ed. D. Diss., Pepperdine University, 2011. â†©
- Steven J. Stein and Howard E. Book, The EQ Advantage: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success. â†© [my emphasis]