Book of the Quarter — The Leader’s Journey

The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation, by Jimm Herrington, Trisha Taylor, and R. Robert Creech, © 2003, 2020 by Jim Herrington, Trisha Taylor, and R. Robert Creech, Published by Baker Academic a division of Baker Publishing Group, P. O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287; ISBN 978-1-4934-2212-8

On the fifth Tuesday of each quarter of the year, I like to share a book I’ve read recently. I highlight “mustard seeds” that impress me. I hope you find one or two that will be helpful to you.

To find more information or buy this book on Amazon, click the link or the picture below: The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. There is no additional charge to you.

An effective leader—one who can galvanize individuals and groups, and who has the potential to help transform society—is a person who has the capacity to know and do the right things (page 1, Kindle Edition).

In this book, when we talk about personal transformation, we are talking about disrupting patterns of disobedience and developing patterns of obedience that allow you to increasingly embody the gospel in your life (page 21, Kindle Edition).

Differentiation deals with the effort to define oneself, to control oneself, to become a more responsible person, and to permit others to be themselves as well. Differentiation is the ability to remain connected in relationship to significant people in our lives and yet not have our reactions and behavior determined by them (page 28, Kindle Edition).

Consider the impact of small improvements. What do you suppose is the difference in salary between a professional baseball player whose batting average is .250 and one whose average is .350? In today’s market, the jump in salary would be astronomical. The first player is average, but every fan would consider the second a superstar. But what is the difference in performance? The .350 hitter gets only one more hit in every ten times at the plate, or about one more hit in every two and a half games. The difference in performance is slight. The impact of that slight difference is enormous (page 33, Kindle Edition).

Whenever a problem in a living system is chronic, just about everyone has a part to play in keeping it going (page 41, Kindle Edition).

Effective leadership comes from someone with enough emotional maturity to call a congregation to discern and pursue a shared vision, to remain connected with those who differ with the leader or the majority, and to remain a calm presence when the anxiety rises (page 54, Kindle Edition).

Learning to think systems means learning to ask and answer two questions: What is my role in keeping this problem in place? and How can I change my role? Thinking that the problem is “out there somewhere” is the problem (page 58, Kindle Edition).

In an anxious system, the leader tends to join others in focusing on symptoms (the complaints and problems) rather than process (the systemic issues and reactions that keep a problem in place). The symptoms, problems, issues, and people in the system get the attention of those who are unable to think systems (page 58, Kindle Edition).

The most strategic role in the system is that of the calm observer. Someone needs to be in the position of being able to see what is going on. Shouldn’t it be you, the leader? (page 63, Kindle Edition).

Ironically, we do not make others more responsible by taking responsibility for them (page 64, Kindle Edition).

From a systems perspective, we can see that conflict is not personal. An old leadership axiom reminds us that the quarterback doesn’t get tackled because he is the most hated player on the team; he gets tackled because he has the ball (page 102, Kindle Edition).

A leader can help the system guard against polarization by resisting the temptation to act as if there are only two options. Even the simplest decisions give us more than only two choices. An early supervisor of mine would listen to me express my confusion about the right intervention to choose in a clinical situation. “Yes, you could do that,” he would say, stroking his beard. “Or you could do the other thing.” He would pause dramatically. “Or you could stand on your chair and sing the national anthem” (page 104, Kindle Edition).

We almost always underestimate the importance of the emotional processes that travel through our extended family into our nuclear family and ultimately into our own lives. This is not to say that our family causes us to be the way we are; systems theory is not about blame. Rather, the multigenerational family, as a living organism, transmits anxiety, stress, function, and dysfunction through its ranks (page 112, Kindle Edition).

When we cut off from others, we tend to justify our position. “Good riddance,” we might say, or “I don’t need that person in my life,” or “Life is just too busy.” However, the person who cuts off emotionally is just as reactive in the relationship as the person who is dependent on others. The level of anxiety in the relationship is just as high, and the presence of symptoms just as likely (page 118, Kindle Edition).

There is a funny saying: “My family knows how to push all my buttons—they installed them!” This is true for all of us. Therefore, we must strategize and plan for a new way to respond when they push those buttons (page 122, 123, Kindle Edition).

Anxiety leads to more anxiety, and more anxiety leads to reactivity—an automatic, emotion-driven response. Rather than calmly thinking through possibilities, members of the family react on autopilot. I often try to help them see the predictable ways that “you do what you do when you do what you do.” Anxious reactivity results in rigid relationship patterns that become increasingly intense (page 134, Kindle Edition).

I know a psychologist who tells clients who might be resistant to a suggestion, “I don’t want you to change at all; just do this one thing a little differently.” That usually helps her client make a small, manageable change without a great deal of anxiety (page 136, Kindle Edition).

Visualizing the kinds of boundaries that we are attempting to establish can help us understand them better. A line on a tennis court is a boundary, and so are the walls of Fort Knox. Clearly, they are of different kinds and have different functions. Personal and family boundaries may vary, but they should be clear and well defined (page 143, Kindle Edition).

Dallas Willard encourages this kind of reflection. He writes, “It is one of the major transitions of life to recognize who has taught us, mastered us, and then to evaluate the results in us of their teaching. This is a harrowing task, and sometimes we just cannot face it. But it can open the door to choose other masters, possibly better masters, and one Master above all” (page 168, Kindle Edition).

For personal transformation to occur, we must identify behavior that we desire to change in light of the new information. We live in an information age, and in Western culture we too easily believe that we have learned a concept if we can intellectually understand it.
Ultimately, however, learning is about changing our behavior (page 169, Kindle Edition).

conflict—A common symptom of anxiety in a system, in which people insist on their way as the only way and clash with others taking the same emotional stance (page 217, Kindle Edition).

On the fifth Tuesday of each quarter of the year, I like to share a book I’ve read recently. I highlight “mustard seeds” that impress me. I hope you find one or two that will be helpful to you.

To find more information or buy this book on Amazon, click the link or the picture below: The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. There is no additional charge to you.

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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