What does it take to be a courageous leader, particularly amidst a culture that, for decades, has been steeped in cowardice?

Can a pastor, denominational executive, or church leader actually turn the tide of emotional and spiritual regression before the Church loses what’s left of its traction in American society?

The first principle we shared is: courageous leadership is not a matter of skill, technique, or knowledge. Its most distinguishing characteristic is the presence of the leader as she or he moves through life. We’ve explored what it means to be a self-defined person with a non-anxious presence.

Now, we’ll look at another insight from Edwin Friedman:

Take full responsibility for your own emotional being and destiny.

Most pastors struggle here: living as if they were responsible for the emotional being and destiny of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other people— and then participating in life as if their own well-being and destiny were dependent on others: the Bishop, their elder board, the denomination, local economic trends, or an abusive control-freak in a position of congregational leadership.

Step one is to disconnect from the generations-long ministerial malpractice of taking responsibility for others. I want to suggest that you and your members can’t both be responsible for their well-being and destiny.

You can or they can.

But both of you cannot. If you take responsibility for them, they won’t stand responsible for themselves.

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

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