Leaders, We Must Face Our Shadows

Pete Scazzero recently joined us on the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast. Pete is the founder and pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, and he speaks and writes on the importance of leaders being healthy. He mentioned the daily need for a leader to “face your shadow.” The metaphor is compelling.

When we were kids, seeing shadows for the first time frightened us. What is this big scary object that mimics every move we make? And while we can try to run away from our shadows, they keep following us. Spiritually speaking, we have shadows—the dark and unredeemed parts of ourselves. The light has not yet conquered those areas, and we must face them. Here are three shadows we must face:

1. Leaders must face their sins.

John Owen famously wrote, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” Healthy leaders kill sin before sin kills them and wreaks havoc on those the leader leads. To kill our sins, we face them and fight. Or they will stab us in the back. Some of us are more prone to workaholism over laziness. Some more prone to finding our comfort in a substance and others more prone to finding comfort in possessions. But all of us are prone to wander from the God who loves us. And if we don’t face our sins, our sins will destroy us.

2. Leaders must face their struggles.

Leaders are in the business of getting hurt and playing hurt. Holding a burden for people will wear on you, and making decisions will inevitably mean not everyone likes you all the time. Thus, with leadership can come struggles with bitterness, regret, and the pain of betrayal. If we do not face these struggles, they can consume us and lead us to unhealthy patterns. They can cause us to pull away from people and move toward unhealthy isolation.

3. Leaders must face their shortcomings.

Leaders must also recognize they are not gifted in everything. There is no such thing as an omni-competent leader. It takes humility and strength to recognize our weaknesses. When we do, we can rely on the gifting and skills of others on our teams.