Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. Instead, I floundered. I reacted equally with tears and laughter and deflection alike. I shoved my emotions deep within, believing that less of myself meant more of Christ. Years would pass before I realized the detriment of my deficits, of what not knowing my needs and my triggers meant to my ministry and to me.
Come to find out, I wasn’t alone.
Pete Scazzero writes in The Emotionally Healthy Leader, “The emotionally unhealthy leader is someone who operates in a continuous state of emotional and spiritual deficit, lacking emotional maturity and a ‘being with God’ sufficient to sustain their ‘doing for God.’” Coach Matt Norman summarizes a recent podcast of Pete’s, encouraging us to understand our emotional triggers as key for our own leadership health:
First, identify emotional triggers. Do you have a tendency to overreact when you feel ignored or when your boss is trying to control you? Do you jump to conclusions when you feel blamed or when a parishioner is overly needy? Spend time thinking about your family of origin and earliest experiences to understand your responses to these situations. For me, the early signs of identification came through personal study to better understand my personality and how I am motivated.
Second, continue to do the work to emotionally mature beyond your triggers. As Max Lucado famously wrote, “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” Simply identifying your triggers is not enough, and the deliberate work of moving beyond your triggers is…well…work. There are wonderful resources I’ll share to help you on your journey, and you might consider working more in depth with a therapist to further find the root of these triggers.
Finally, learn to appreciate the emotional triggers of others. Just as you’ve learned patience with your own emotional triggers, be sure to extend grace and give others the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you need to remind yourself that God loves them more than you’ll ever understand. Practically speaking, Matt Norman advises creating a safe and “non-judgmental space for them to discover more about their own emotional attachments.”