“Seatbelt Society?”

In the early 1990’s, Dr. Edwin Friedman described America as “a seatbelt society.” He noted that our culture had oriented itself more toward safety than adventure. In “A Failure of Nerve” he notes that America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into an emotional regression that is toxic to courageous, well-defined leadership.

One effect of societal anxiety is a reduced pain threshold. The result: we value comfort over the rewards of facing and surmounting challenges.

A culture like this has no stamina in the face of difficulty and crisis.

How like the contemporary Church this is. In our commitment to “being nice” we have prioritized togetherness over making a difference. In our desire to feel good we bury our heads in the proverbial sand while the culture around us sprints toward its destruction.

According to Friedman, in environments like this, dissent is discouraged, feelings take precedence over ideas, peace over progress, comfort over anything new, and cloistered virtues over adventure.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

“Leadership Courage” is here

Twenty five years ago, Edwin Friedman, psychologist, rabbi, lecturer, and author observed that the US had become “chronically anxious.” In this condition, he said the least mature wield the greatest influence. A cursory glance at our culture today reveals just how prescient he was. In A Failure of Nerve he described a distinctive kind of leadership necessary in such a context.

If his observations apply to the US in general, they even more describe the condition of the Church. Leadership Courageis an attempt to apply the brilliant insights of Friedman to the local pastor in America who is laboring to provoke growth and maturity in the congregation.

Leadership is primarily a matter of the heart. And, the heart of an effective pastor can be developed to conform to the postures and practices that Friedman suggested and Jesus modeled wonderfully. Leadership Courage is a provocative and contemporary examination of both.

It is available now at:



Exemplars of Courage?

Who are the exemplars of courage in society today?

Often they are pop-culture icons or sports stars with little evidence of moral fiber. It seems to me that the courageous have become an endangered species…and not just in society but in the Church.

Think about it.

Wikipedia defines an endangered species as a population “at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in number or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters.”

Can you see that these conditions are true of the Church today?

We’re left with what I call a “culture of cowardice.”

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Salt and Light

The Church is to be God’s redemptive gift to salt and light the communities where God has placed it. By “salt” I mean that capacity to spice up the experience of living in God—and all humans are living in God whether they acknowledge or deny that reality.

Historically, salt’s seasoning effect was experienced as good. In addition to seasoning all it touches, salt preserves. Salt slows decay. In the arid middle east at the time of Christ salt kept meat from rotting. It was essential to survival. Everybody understood this.

“Light” illuminates. Light can point the way like a car’s headlights serve those driving, warn of danger the way a lighthouse does, and enable us to see when vision would otherwise be impossible. Light allows us to make helpful distinctions in thousands of beneficial ways that keep us from harm, make sense of our surroundings, allow us to read, to learn, and to respond advantageously. Without it, society is confined to grope in darkness, suffering needlessly, sorrowing greatly.

When churches fail to be salt and light in our communities, our congregations suffer—but, the unchurched around us suffer much more.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Whose Responsibility?

Are you responsible for your spouse’s happiness?

Of course not! How could you be? If your spouse has handed you “the keys” to their emotional wellbeing, please give them back!


When you notice that someone has tried to make you responsible for whatever it is that God has made them responsible for – their attitudes, their feelings, their behavior, their stress, their decisions, their depression, their optimism – invite them to embrace this reality: you may have a responsibility to them, but you can never be responsible for them.

When you are with an otherwise capable adult as if they were incapable of adult choices and unable to bear the adult consequences for those choices, there is an impact–a “fruit” that is produced. This happens whenever you persuade another to live irresponsibly.

The distinction of being responsible to vs. responsible for is central for any of us in leadership.

There’s actually great freedom when you are clear about this distinction, and lead in such a way that those you influence are clear about it too. To stand in life responsible to others and responsible for your own emotional being and destiny may call for courage you’ve not been willing to summon, up ‘till now.


–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

The Responsibility Riddle

Question: Pastor, who is responsible for your spiritual maturity and vitality?

Answer: I am, of course!

Ok, fine. Now answer this…

Question: : Pastor, who is responsible for the spiritual maturity and vitality of your congregation?

Answer: Again, I am!

Question: Really? Are you sure?

If you are responsible for your congregation’s spiritual maturity, what are they responsible for?

There’s a troubling trend in the Church these days. We, in ministry, see the evidence of it all the time. It can be found in a complaint. More often than not, the complaint sounds something like this: “I’m just not getting fed here.” “I don’t experience the presence of God here.” “The worship no longer ministers to me.”

And then, off they go, out the door, on to another church, or maybe to no church at all. The thinking, both of the pastor and the complaining congregant flows from the same fallacy: that the pastor, the church, and the elders are somehow responsible for the spiritual condition of those they serve.

Thinking like this, it’s no wonder the Church is diapered in spiritual infancy.

So, who is responsible for your spiritual maturity and vitality?

You are. Only you.

The responsibility riddle can be solved in this important, seldom recognized distinction: Your pastor is responsible to you but is not responsible for you.

Think about it.

A pastor is responsible to the congregation to model mature faith in action, to proclaim God’s Word faithfully, to represent Christ ethically. Each believer is responsible for what they do with the Word of God: both the preached Word and the Word that sits in their lap, on their phone, on the bookshelf, or on the coffee table gathering dust.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

The Dangers of Love

Living with heart and vulnerability is an act of courage. Some would argue that living with your heart fully engaged, fully invested, and fully in play is costly, reckless, and dangerous.

I agree.

But to live with your heart withheld is also costly.

There’s no living without paying prices. Give your heart; there are prices. Hide your heart from your own life and other prices are exacted. So, let’s examine prices that living with heart requires. Just to be clear about it.

Whenever you care about anyone and anything, you invest some of yourself. The more deeply you care, the more of yourself you invest

C.S Lewis writes “Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one…”

To live and lead with courage is to love so much that your heart is vulnerable to being “wrung and possibly broken.” And yet, when your heart is wrung or broken you can choose to keep it engaged.

Silencing your survival instincts, trusting God to heal and strengthen your heart, you keep giving yourself – fully – to your life.

This is no small matter. If it were, the world would be full of powerfully courageous leaders.

Imagine if the Church was a gathering place, an equipping place, and a sending place for leaders like this.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Made for Love

As humans, we were made for love. Made to love. Built to access and share affection readily, easily, and generously.

Like little kids do.

Living with and among imperfect human beings, I’ve been hurt and I’ve seen others hurt, over the years. In the movies we see characters that give the appearance of being deeply satisfied, fully alive, and relationally connected without the risk of hurt and heartache that actual love requires.

Smooth operators.

Cool customers.

Cold lovers?

I once taught myself to live that way. Denying what I was, and what I was made for until Christ captured my heart and taught me another way: a risky way, a vulnerable, dangerous way. Since then, there’s been an accordion-like opening and closing, expanding and compressing of the affections my heart was meant to exude.


–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Is Your Love Growing…

Francis Frangipane asks in “The Three Battlegrounds:” “Is your love growing and becoming softer, brighter, more daring, and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love is. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.”

Paul, with all that was at stake in Corinth, shepherded his heart so that it remained wide open, and his affections so that they were not withheld from them.

So rigorously and generously did he give his heart to them that he was able to call them to reciprocate— his leverage coming from his having gone first! He called them to a “fair exchange” of affections.

–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/


#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

Open Wide Your Heart

Most pastors would say they love their people well, sacrifice for them, work tirelessly, try to be accessible, etc. Yet, Paul speaks of his heart being wide open to them. [2 Cor 6:11] That’s intense.

A heart wide-open!

A big, gaping opening that can be exploited, disappointed, rejected, maligned. And, I write this not just for the young, wide-eyed church planters who haven’t yet taught themselves to distrust their congregations and bury their affections behind a mask of professional, religious propriety.

This applies to you: the veteran of betrayals, abuses, attacks, and back-stabbings… by many who you’ll no doubt find in Heaven.


–Kirk Kirlin, Leadership Courage more at www.KirlinCoaching.com/blog/

#leadership #courage #courageousleadership #leadershipcourage #Jesus #pastor #discipleship

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