Guest / Limited Access /
How to Avoid the Church's 'Hero Culture'
Image: Photo courtesy of Eerdmans

Shepherding a church or ministry inevitably means dealing with difficult personalities. How can leaders handle hard relationships without buckling under the pressure? Chuck DeGroat, professor of pastoral care and counseling at Western Theological Seminary, as well as a pastor and therapist, tackles the question in his latest book, Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life—Including Yourself (Eerdmans). Daniel Darling, a pastor and author, spoke with DeGroat about embracing vulnerability and avoiding the pitfalls of the church-based "hero culture."

You write candidly about having nurtured suicidal thoughts, even while serving in ministry. Should church leaders publicly share their struggles this way?

I've done research on seminary graduates who had been in ministry five or more years. They were excited to study the Bible, read deep books, and preach. But they weren't prepared for the barrage of criticism, gossip, triangulation, stress, exhaustion, and more.

Throughout my own time in ministry, there have been dark times. I've felt worthless, like it just wasn't worth it, like my wife and I were a thousand miles apart. I've had times when I felt like everyone was against me, when my inner critic was so loud I couldn't think. As leaders, we need greater permission to tell stories that include the darker edges. Every good story involves suffering, death, and resurrection—that's the pattern Jesus set! Why pretend we're superhuman when Christ was fully human?

I distinguish between openness and vulnerability. Vulnerability is saved for a few close friends and one's spouse. Openness is for larger audiences. Good leadership ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedMark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
(UPDATED) Driscoll offers 8-step solution to followers: 'Current climate is not healthy for me or for this church.'
TrendingHow 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
How 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
Leadership Network and Vanderbloemen find what determines pastor salaries (and who might be most underpaid).
Editor's PickWhy Can't Men Be Friends?
Why Can't Men Be Friends?
Men and women alike increasingly say they are lonely. It doesn't have to be this way.
Comments
Christianity Today
How to Avoid the Church's 'Hero Culture'
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.