Healthy Spiritual Leadership

Dino Rizzo

Having experienced my own days of discouragement and burnout, and having spoken with dozens of others who have walked through the same challenges – the encouraging voice of Coach Greg Salciccioli, and many like him, has become a great gift that I am quick to lean into, especially with it comes to healthy spiritual leadership. On an ARC Hangout, I got to sit down and listen to him share some insights.

“What limits us as leaders? What puts a lid on us, holds us back, and causes many of us to walk on a path of self-sabotage and ultimately, failure?” These are the questions he seeks to help us find not just answers but also solutions to.

Leadership is challenging – one day we can be successful and the next day we could lose it all. So how do we build sustainable success? How do we make sure that our health and ministry aren’t running counter to one another?

Here are 3 principles for healthy spiritual leadership:

Healthy Spiritual Leadership Principle 1:  Place Value on Replenishing Ourselves

As leaders, we are wired to constantly give and serve others – which is righteous. But we have to remember that this isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon. And in order to run a marathon, it is vital that we replenish ourselves spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and physically.

As Paul instructed Timothy in 1st Timothy 4, we have to model a pattern for others – setting an example of a consistent healthy lifestyle.

Coach Greg reminds us that God didn’t call us to live in a pattern of chaos – but to be His representative. “We forget the power of being His representative.” We can’t fall into the “Moses Syndrome”, sitting in front of the crowds, morning to night trying to answer everyone’s questions and meeting all of their needs. We have to re-evaluate. What actually is our calling from God? Is it to live a manic, exhausted, and disconnected from family and friends? I don’t think it is.

Jesus led by example – not just by activity. We have to remember that leading by example has more impact than just activity.

But what about those of us who feel trapped on that ever-cycling treadmill – feeling like we can’t get off and the only way to survive is to keep running?

Coach Greg says to remember “you have created that treadmill.” If you’re doing all the running it’s because you chose to. Instead, slow down, step off the treadmill, gather your team around you, and start “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry”.

Healthy Spiritual Leadership Principle 2: Create Healthy Rhythms

We need connection – spiritual, physical, relational. We need time to connect with God. Not studying to write a sermon, but just connecting, inviting Him into our lives, soaking in His presence.

We need to spend time exercising or being in nature, connecting with our spouse, and enjoying friendships.

“These rhythms, when put together in our life, help us to be high-energy, low-stress. If we find ourselves with high anxiety, lack of peace, and being drawn to temptation we’re missing rhythms.”

Healthy rhythms help us to lead at the height of our calling by posturing us to serve and lead from a place of strength and fullness. And they help us to last for the long haul.

These rhythms aren’t meant to confine us or become legalistic – they’re actually meant to help free us.

I once feared boundaries because I felt like they were going to make me plain vanilla – boring and snoring. But what I’ve realized over the last couple of years is that margin, boundaries, and a rhythm of life actually have helped me discover a joy that I didn’t have in the frantic, spontaneous merry-go-round, I once was in.

Living in these healthy rhythms have helped me to have long lasting energy and fruitfulness. But this lifestyle of health takes time to build. It doesn’t happen overnight.

“If you want lifelong change, you have to start in the thinking first, not always in the behavior first.”

Romans 12:1-2 tells us to renew our minds. That’s where it all starts. We have to start thinking in new patterns.

“A renewed perspective, will then lead to a plan, which you will then start to perform on, and then you can monitor your progress. Perspective, plan, performance, progress. That’s the life cycle of permanent change.”

Sometimes though, we wonder if we will ever be able to change. We can feel hopeless and begin to ask ourselves “Is it even worth it? Can I change? Should I just give up?”

In the words of Coach Greg “Please, remember that you are cherished and loved.” “Be careful because the enemy wants you to think that you have no hope.  First – close his voice out. Second, know that you have the ability to change.  Give yourself permission to create some space, work on some renewal patterns, and stop trying to be the savior of the world.

Some specific margins to start with would be defining our work hours. Sounds crazy right? But “work grows to fill the time given to it.” And it’s actually amazing how much you get done when you do define your work and put a box around it.

Next – define when you’ll gift yourself some of those healthy rhythms we talked about. When will you exercise, when is date night, when is bball with the guys?

“Put some guard rails up, and then build from there. What you’ll find is that you have more energy, more innovation, and you’ll achieve more in less hours. You’ll see your church and ministry grow more than ever before, if you work in it less. That sounds weird, but it works.”

Healthy Spiritual Leadership Principle 3: True Accountability

Surrounding yourself with a core group of people who you have prayerfully chosen, and giving them full disclosure into your life. Opening up before them and inviting their voice to help shape you.

It is so important for us to accept permission to take care of ourselves, to work on our growth, to maintain our calling. A great friend, Pastor Scott Jones, recently told me “a biopsy is better than an autopsy.”

Wow how true. I want to encourage you – no matter where you are in life, to join me in committing to renew our minds, practice healthy spiritual leadership rhythms, and to accept permission to work on ourselves so that we can be a better representative of God – rather than trying to be the savior of the world.

Check out the full conversation with Coach Greg here.

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