Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 5

Discussion of the Case Study - The Shadow of the Leader

Discussion of the case study – The Shadow of the Leader

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Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 5
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Discussion of the Case Study - The Shadow of the Leader

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This is a summary version of the Christ-Centered Leadership class in the Certificates section that includes a study guide and additional resources.

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Discussion of the Case Study - The Shadow of the Leader
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:02] What's going on with Robert Avella? You want to answer the question because. No, just let's just talk in general. What do you feel like is happening with him here? I think he's taken his eyes off the Lord. He started out very much directive. Yeah. Wanting to make a difference. Do you think he would describe it as him having taken his eyes off the Lord? No, no, I would say that he would. He would say that I'm living how the Lord's calling me that. That I'm a I'm the chosen of the Lord and that I'm special. The Lord is speaking to me and through me. And these things are necessary for right ministry for me to be successful. It's interesting that control among leaders is almost always due to a fear. It's almost always to try to deal with fear. Um. Fear gives way to control in leaders. The other thing that you've brought up that's fascinating is that in a very real sense, looking from the outside in, it's pretty obvious that this guy's in trouble spiritually, but he probably would not describe it that way himself. And part of the difficulty that we see in leaders is that there's a real latent danger, particularly within the Christian church, because we have tended to combine. Spiritual leadership with positional leadership. And when you combine positional leadership with spiritual leadership, the people in those positions are become rather untouchable. And that's a recipe for a toxic kind of a situation. And we'll get into that just a little bit more. But I'm just curious what you think about that. Have you seen that? Is that been part of your own observation? What do you think? I think yes, definitely. It's part of it. It's a very universal thing.

[00:02:24] It's been happening 2000 years ago for a thousand years. I mean, it's happened through the history of mankind. Part of it's that whole notion, like the Israelites demanded a king like all the other. We want leadership, so we want the robber developers to come and speak with control. The alter ego, right? Yes. We want to believe that there is somebody who's making it when we can't. And so it's a fuel and part of it, you're absolutely right. It's where we don't have that accountability built in. We don't build that accountability. And because the people want a leader and the leader wants to be the leader, and it doesn't often start out that way. It starts out noble and in folks who are doing wonderful things. But again, we force somebody into a leadership role. And in that leadership role, they do things to justify it, so they become above the rules of that society. Good. Good point. You mentioned the embezzlement that may have caused him to move toward this control sort of motif. What what else do you feel may have pushed him toward some of this? Some of this sense of entitlement or or whatever the case may be. What what do you feel like was happening there? He said he was feeling more insecure and having self doubts, so maybe he had to work harder to prove that he was secure and deserved the position. I have a rechargeable drill at home and that sucker works pretty darn well until the battery starts wearing down. And when it does, it needs to be recharged. If you don't recharge it, you can't use it whatsoever at all. We're like that in our battery is community. And he was getting away from community. He was getting a lot of strokes from being called to speak in this place or lead in this place.

[00:04:24] But he was called away from the community that he originally invested in. And as he did, that battery wore down and so he replaced it with fake batteries and all sorts of other things. But I think that's a problem that all of us run into is when we leave our core view. This is what we're here, this is our focus. But when we also lose the community to help us keep that focus, good. Other thoughts. I think there is a fear thing here. I remember when we came off the field. My wife and I, who's pretty much the nicest woman you could ever meet. Our test that they were interviewing us and they said, Do you have any questions? And Nancy just asked the senior pastor and who hold you accountable. And he had an, I thought, a very good answer. Oh, yes. With the older board here and that type of stuff. Well, five years later, you're 12. Your wife has never liked me, has she? She's always questioning. Oh, oh. And it was referring back to that question that you asked that she had asked that I thought, oh, my goodness. I had no idea the fear that he had there, that the control or the question of he and his abilities in his direction. So is that a good question for. When you're whatever the position is, you're trying to fill a leadership position. What are your fears? It can be if you can get a good answer. Yeah. Yeah, it certainly can be. I'm just curious. There was some allusion to his childhood growing up with the father. Do you suppose that that impacted him as an adult? When you get away from this, that God's voice in your head, in prayer and I don't know, it just seems like he really had strayed.

[00:06:22] The old things come back and you're hearing old voices of past things. So he didn't choose. But that was his earliest mentor in the sense of the father boy. That is just so true, generation after generation. Yeah. I think too, in this fear thing, it's very interesting. As a mother, it was always I was always most controlling of my girls when I was fearful of something. Mhm. I don't know if it was. Yeah. There's a book called The Dark Side of Leadership. Can't readily recall the the author, but it's a it's a fascinating book that basically contends that most high impact leaders are driven people and that what drives is about Christian leadership, that which drives Christian leaders to be effective and impactful and fruitful, productive, if not dealt with, if those issues that drive them to be, uh, successful, to pass to the large church, to have the, you know, a, you know, well-known ministry and so forth, if those issues are not dealt with, then those very things that cause them to be successful will derail them later on in their ministry lives. It's a sad news and it's happened to so many. And there was mention made of so many pastors that we hear and part of part of our motif in the Christian church today is about success. You know, there's just this driven is to pastor a large church and to be to be that person who's out there and well known and and is successful. But but the the medicine that it takes to get there is the same medicine is going to kill you. You know, if you don't if you don't deal with it. In fact, uh, the studies show that high impact leaders, uh, there's a typical pattern that exist, and they come often from backgrounds that have three common elements.

[00:08:42] One is an absent father and the other is a dominant mother, and a third is a traumatic experience in late adolescence, a late puberty or early adolescent life. Now, the problem is, is that's the very same profile of most criminals that are in prison. And so it really just has to do with how you're going to focus and follow your energy. And so what we're saying is that for all the the good motivations that are behind so many Christian leaders, the fact is that there's a dark side to those that, like Dr. Avella, start out with this this sense of call it what you will, but ambition, we call it calling all these elements that are championed then and cheered by those that are looking for a leader. As Jim has said, uh, if if that person doesn't stay in community, that person isn't, isn't mindful and, and it's hard to be mindful in one's own skin. There needs to be that voice from without as well, because we do get to feeling like we're, uh, untouchable and, and spiritual, even though even though we're not. And so these are some of the the real pitfalls that we see in leaders worldwide. There is, uh, after I show this short film clip, I'd like to just get some reaction to the, uh, the case study as well as the film clip from you. This film clip is taken from a film that was from 1962, and I hope you can see it. It's 50 years old this year. It was a very raw story called One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And it's it's a story about a mental ward that was run by Nurse Ratchet. Power and Control had become her favorite tools to break the spirits of the patients that she was committed to, to care for and help.

[00:10:54] The following clip from the film is a scene where the patients want to watch the Baseball World Series during the daytime, But there are rules against watching television in the daytime. And so Jack Nicholson's character, you'll notice a young, very young Jack Nicholson in the film. He's attempting to encourage the patients to vote for permission to watch the World Series. And the audio sinking is off a bit, I think partly due to the age of the film, but I think you'll get the impact nonetheless.

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