HarLead2 08-08-110 

Leadership from the Inside Out

Examining the Inner Life of a Healthy Church Leader


Kevin Harney

Zondervan, 2007, 196 pp., ISBN 978-0-310-25943-5



Kevin Harney is the Teaching Pastor and Evangelism Champion at Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana, and Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan.  Harney says leaders must humbly and consistently examine their inner lives and identify areas of needed change and growth.  They must listen to voices of those who love them enough to tell them the truth. (from the back cover) 


The book has an eye-catching format that includes several categories of sidebars in each chapter: self-examination suggestions, ways to invite others into our lives for accountability, insights for preventative care, and ways to build networks to help us.  Each chapter ends with discussion questions. 


"Few leaders drop out of ministry because they lack the skills.  Instead, too often they lack an examined inner life shaped by the Holy Spirit."  "And when the inner life is left to erode to a critical point, the outer world implodes." (13)  "Self-examination is essential in the life of every leader."  "Healthy leaders not only practice self-examination but also move beyond reflection to invite others into the deep parts of their souls." (16, 17)


Chapter 1.  Love Strengthens Every Relationship: The Leader's Heart

"If our heart stops beating, we die."  Sample symptoms checks: (25)

       I minister more out of duty than out of love for God.

       When I lead in prayer….the words…feel hollow and empty to me.


"When God is no longer our first love, our leadership lives are in danger."  "It is so easy for Christian leaders to allow other things to become our first love."  "Often this surrogate first love seems noble, even Christ-honoring, but it is a heart-killing illusion." (27) 



       Building a successful and growing ministry

       Being loved by the people we serve and keeping them happy

       Feeling important and valuable in our hearts (27)


"As leaders, connecting with God more intentionally and intimately is our starting point; it is the foundation for all we do in ministry." (29)


"If our hearts are going to be healthy and strong, we will learn to forgive."  "Forgiveness heals.  Unforgiveness kills."  Meet separately with two people in your ministry who love you and whom you trust.  Ask them if they think there is anyone whom you have not fully forgiven.  (37) 


Chapter 2.  Lifelong Learning Expands Our Horizons: The Leader's Mind

No one seems to notice whether we read the Bible for personal growth.  (46)


Network Building suggestion:  In your staff meetings ask each person to share what they have been reading in God's Word over the past week and one way God has spoken to them in personal Bible study.  (45)  "What is one lesson you learned from your personal Bible study this month?" (48) 


"Digging into books is one of the best ways to keep growing as a leader." (51)  "Colloquy groups are small gatherings of people who agree to gather, study, and dig into a topic for a set period of time.  The key learning element…is group interaction." (54) 


Read books that challenge your worldview and rattle your cage.  (55)


Chapter 3.  Attentive Listening Informs Wise Decisions: The Leader's Ears

"Wise leaders learn to identify people who have the experience of years of walking closely with Jesus.  And when they get close to these people, they listen, ask good questions, watch, and learn." (67)


Chapter 4.  Clear Vision Sees What Lies Ahead: The Leader's Eyes

"Leaders need to have sharp eyes to see culture as it is….  But even more important, leaders need to see the presence of God.  When we open our eyes to the spiritual reality around us, everything else snaps into focus."  (Note 2 Kings 6:8) (80)  "Begin to pray, with faith and confidence, 'Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see!'  This is…about having the veil pulled back and your eyes opened to see the presence of the spiritual world." (81) 


"Wise leaders discover the wealth of wisdom from the past.  They stop, make a 180 degree turn, and slowly observe where they have been and where the church has been." (85)  "God was building the church of today on a foundation established over years, decades, and centuries." (87)


"Leaders who want to stay healthy in their ministry will discover the wisdom of knowing their family history.  This is true in our personal lives.  We can avoid generational sin and dysfunction if we are aware of them and take measures to live in a different way.  The harmful decisions of past generations do not have to dictate our future.  In a similar way, leaders who know the family history of their church can avoid past patterns and pitfalls.  Good leaders are good historians." (86) 


"If the church you serve has been around for a while, learn its history--the good, the bad, and the ugly."  (88)  "Learning from the past is mandatory for a ministry's healthy future." (89)


Chapter 5.  Affirming Words Bring Blessing and Energy: The Leader's Mouth

"Churches where words of kindness and encouragement are plentiful have the aroma of life." (101)


Chapter 6.  Humble Service Reveals Jesus' Presence: The Leader's Hands

Network Building Sidebar: "It's a simple but culture-shifting question.  What do we have that we can give away?" (129)


Chapter 7.  Laughter Sustains Our Sanity: The Leader's Funny Bone

Symptoms Check:

       When I look in the mirror, I see sadness on my face and realize I have lost my sense of joy.

       I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard that it hurt.

       When I join a group, things always seem to get more serious instead of more fun."  (138)


Self-Examination Suggestion:

1.      When people are with me, do they usually leave with a smile on their face?

2.      Do I laugh often, and do others laugh with me?

3.      Do I create experiences and moments of play, fun, and laughter for the people I am called to lead?


"Leaders must learn to laugh.  We must laugh at ourselves, laugh with each other, and also laugh at some of the silliness we face in the work of the church.  If we take everything we do seriously, we will wither up and die on the inside.  If we can't open the pressure valve with laughter, we just might explode.  So laugh or die.  It's up to you." (147)


Chapter 8.  Understanding and Harnessing Our Sexual Desires: The Leader's Libido

Leaders are shipwrecking their lives through sexual compromise.  "I had a sober awareness that I was not beyond temptation.  I found myself scrutinizing my own ability to self-deceive, my propensity toward sin, how I can rationalize poor choices, and how I can live a double life if I'm not very careful."  Sober fear gripped me.  I hope it never goes away. (153)


Symptom Check:

       I find myself letting people in my church meet emotional needs that should be met only by my spouse.  (153)


"In a sex-saturated culture, we must guard our minds.  This is the first line of defense." (155)  "The mind is a battlefield.  If the enemy can dominate here, he can infiltrate, poison, and destroy every area of our lives." (156) 


"Memorizing passages of the Bible and reciting them might seem old-fashioned."  "I disagree.  I believe the best way to practice preventive care of our souls, when it comes to sexual temptation, is to saturate our minds with God's Word.  Meditating on Scripture is a cleansing process, and at any time, we can draw on portions of the Bible we have memorized."  (159) 


"Most of the time, when a godly Christian man or woman begins crossing lines in the area of sexuality, it has to do with an emotional need.  They feel far from their spouse."  "Married leaders should make their sexual lives a high priority." (165-66)


Chapter 9.  Bearing the Yoke of Jesus: The Leader's Back

Set a limit on how many nights you will go back to church during the week.  Then invite your staff, board, and congregation to keep you accountable.  (172)


"Each time we take a Sabbath, we make three declarations to heaven, earth, our church, and ourselves.

1.      We trust that God is capable of running the universe and his church without us.

2.      We are confident that God can provide all we need in six days of labor.

3.      We understand that slowing down and meeting with God and his people is a priority in our lives."

"Think about it.  God, who is omnipotent, took a Sabbath and called you to do the same." (176)



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