6 Ways To Overcome Hurt From Leaders

May 17, 2012

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Much of what is learned in leadership comes from personal mistakes, as well as lessons learned from the mistakes of other leaders.

This is true in my own story.

I was hurt by leadership early in my missions career. There were issues of control, manipulation, and a very works oriented mentality. The smallest mistake was treated as massive, leading to feeling as if you disappointed the leaders. Perfectionism was modeled, grace was not.

During these years I had to contend with tribalism, accusation, character attacks, and many other wretched things people do to each other. At one point, I was even advised to engage in illegal activities by a senior leader in the organization!

I would like to share several tips which have helped me journey out of the pain. These tips will help you regain health and succeed as a leader.

Here are 6 remedies to overcome hurt from leaders:

Taste something different

Realization and healing often begins by seeing something different. Go to another church, serve in another ministry, or align yourself with someone who leads in a different style.

Healthy leadership reveals unhealthy traits and points you in a good direction.

Seek Good leaders

This is very closely linked to the first one. These leaders can be in the flesh as well as through podcasts, teachings, and various friendships.

I credit one leader with saving my career in missions. During my period of turmoil, I phoned him; asking if this style of leadership was rampant in our organization. He did not engage in a debate or defense of the hurtful leaders, rather spending time describing how he led his region. Hearing a healthy leaders perspective gave me hope, keeping me in the game when I was tempted to quit missions.

hurt emotions

Give yourself time and grace to process

Overcoming disappointment and hurt is a journey which takes time. Time is the great healer and bringer of perspective. My path led me to step out of leadership for a season to process. I would strongly advise speaking to a counselor during this time of seeking answers.

Get back into leadership yourself

Once you have had sufficient time to process, it is time to get back on the horse. I have met many people who say, “I will never be a leader again.” This is their hurt and pain speaking. Avoid words like “never” or “always.”

I have walked this journey with a friend recently. Little by little as he healed, he accepted responsibility and leadership again. With each step, he embraced his return and calling again.

We do not want to allow our hurt and pain to compromise the call of God on our lives.

Be honest with your mistakes

Rarely is the blame entirely on the hurtful leaders. I call this the 1% principle. Even if you see yourself as erring in 1% of the problem, we must own our 1%. Of course we want the other person to respond to the 99%. But reality is, they may never own their mistakes. Our concern is not their response, but ours. We are responsible for our part of the problem. Doing so aids in our recovery.

Forgive

This may be the most important. Do not allow lack of forgiveness to taint you and your future leadership. We likely will not be the ones to bring correction to those who wounded us. We must forgive.

The truth of the matter is: but for the grace of God, so go we. We will find ourselves in similar situations or worse without keeping our eyes on God and remaining in a place of teachability.

We must forgive and forget the offense.

We never forget the lessons we’ve learned. They can inspire and guide us for the rest of our lives as a leader.

Are there any other tips you would share to overcome hurt in leadership?

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God