Three Subconscious Behavior Patterns that Hamstring Your Ministry and Leadership

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Over the years of my work as counselor (sometimes to Christian leaders), psychologist and student of clergy burnout, I’ve identified at least three destructive behavior patterns that pastors (as well as other people) can fall into.

The thing that makes them worse and the reason I write this article: you may not even fully realize that you are stuck in these patterns nor of their truly debilitating impact on your effectiveness.

So I ask you to take a minute and honestly reflect on the three subconscious behavior patterns I list below. Ask yourself, “Is this me?”

If none of these describe you, great! However, if even one of these fits like a glove, then you’ve taken the first step toward more peace of mind and greater capacity for leadership. So here we go:

The Pattern of Perfectionism

  • Do you procrastinate or avoid completing tasks because they must be perfect before they can be utilized?

  • Do you stress too much over details or possibility of errors?

  • Do you struggle to delegate because you fear others won’t do it right?

  • Are you hard on yourself when something isn’t perfect?

The Pattern of Performance-based Self-Esteem

  • Do you feel a strong sense of personal failure when a project fails?

  • Do you tend to overwork even during times you know you should be spending more time with family and friends?

  • Do you define your success in life in terms of your success in ministry?

  • Do you often become angered with people who stand in the way of your goals?

The Pattern of People Pleasing

  • Do you struggle to say “no” for fear of hurting other’s feelings?

  • Do you tend to avoid direct communication and appropriate assertiveness for fear of conflict?

  • Do you absolutely strive for and thrive on positive feedback from others?

  • Do you fret over possibly saying or doing something wrong and others becoming upset with you?

See yourself in any of those three patterns? Want to make some changes? (I might add that, in addition interfering with effective leadership and ministry, each if these three patterns brings loads of unnecessary stress into your life.)   

What’s the first and greatest step toward turning those behaviors around? Self-awareness! So I challenge you to reflect through prayer, journaling and talking to trusted others who know you well. Grow your awareness of the things you do and why you do it. Self-understanding paves the path for greater freedom.

The more we make the subconscious conscious, the less power and influence it exerts over us. Subconscious thoughts and drives lose their grip when we see our dysfunctions more clearly.

Overcome these and I believe you will find life and ministry more fun, yourself less stressed and free, and your ability to connect with and influence others greater than ever.

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Dr. Jeannie2 Comments