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A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 7: Focus on Challenge, Not Comfort

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 18, 2005

There is no growth without anxiety.  Spiritual growth depends upon our faithful response to struggle and anxiety–as we face obstacles, we must either give in to our anxiety and yield to the obstacle or to depend upon Jesus.  The person who always chooses the most comfortable, anxiety-free, options in life doesn’t grow in wisdom.  The road of comfort is the path to status quo.  Peter Steinke writes:

Whatever [leaders] do that does not increase the group’s internal wisdom is an inferior approach.  For if people are protected from threat, they become immune deficient, never to become wiser and always to be vulnerable to the newest virus.

This doesn’t mean that leaders should be jerks.  There are alot of bullying leaders in the church who keep their congregations in fear.  This doesn’t cause growth, because such leaders make all the choices for the congregation; the people are largely robbed from having a faith of their own.

Good leaders, like good therapists, often raise the appropriate level of anxiety by raising the right questions.  Questions invite people into a place of proactive anxiety.  They challenge.  Good leaders raise the right sort of challenging questions to help the congregation to move forward in faith.  They try to keep struggle away from the congregation.

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