Book Review: Leadership Pain

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Leadership Pain by Dr. Samuel R. Chand was recommended to me by my pastor along with a few other books that he had been reading.  Powerful read as Chand describes leadership pain as “the classroom for growth”.  Isn’t that true?  If you want to get stronger, you have to deal with the pain of exercise.  If you want to be debt-free, you have to deal with the pain of making tough financial decisions.  If you want to earn that degree, you have to deal with the pain of late nights and hard work.  If there is any one resource that every leader has an unending supply of…it’s most likely pain.  The stewardship of leadership comes in how you deal with the pain and use it to help you understand the grace and mercy of our Lord and use it as a catalyst to love and serve others well.  So…no pain, no gain I guess!  One major benefit of pain is the understanding that those things that used to be painful, tend to be those same things that ultimately made you stronger and more resolved.  Have you thanked God lately for the pain that He allows as He brings us closer to His perfect plan for our lives?

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • “We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” Kenji Miyazawa p. 1
  • Often the difference between where I am and where God wants me to be is the pain I’m unwilling to endure.  Doing what’s right, no matter how difficult, is a rare trait in ministry.  Most choose easy.  We must choose right over easy.  p. 4
  • “I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us.  In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”  Elisabeth Elliott p. 6
  • Paradoxically, Christians often have more difficulty handling personal pain that unbelievers.  They look at the promises of God and conclude that God should fill their lives with joy, love, support, and success.  That’s reading the Bible selectively.  The Scriptures state—clearly and often—that enduring pain is one of the ways, perhaps the main way, God works his grace deeply into our lives.  p. 11
  • Making friends with your pain is a part of leadership.  Our pains tell us we’re moving in the right direction.  New pains will always be a part of your life as you continue climbing the ladder to your destiny.  p. 14
  • Being a Christian leader in any organization is one of the most difficult jobs in the world—full of risks, strains, and challenges for the leader and his family—but it’s also the one that offers the greatest hope to make a difference both now and for eternity.  p. 51
  • “Never trust a leader that doesn’t walk with a limp.”  Dr. J. Robert Clinton p. 53
  • Liminal space is a concept in theology and psychology.  It is the intermediate, in-between, transitional state where you cannot go back to where you were because a threshold has been crossed, and you have yet to arrive where you are going because it is not yet available to you.  Essentially, it is the hallway between the past and the future.  I can tell you quite candidly: it’s hell in the hallway. p. 56
  • “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”  Julius Caesar p. 67
  • “Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain.  The greatest pain comes from leaving.  When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies…the pain of leaving can tear us apart.  Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving.  And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair.  We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”  Henri Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup? p. 70
  • Perfectionism is a fairly rare theological conviction among a handful of Christians, but functionally is an epidemic among leaders and pastors of all theological stripes.  Tenderhearted and often insecure leaders absorb criticism from others, and they compound it with negative self-talk.  p. 76
  • “This is what all the work of grace aims at—an even deeper knowledge of God, and an ever-closer fellowship with Him.  Grace is God drawing us sinners closer and closer to Him.  How does God in grace prosecute this purpose?  Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh, and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome or frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to Him more closely.  This is the ultimate reason, from our standpoint, why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort or another—it is to ensure that we shall learn to hold him fast.”  J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 227  p. 79
  • God never wastes our pain.  p. 81
  • We must keep loving people.  We can’t allow ourselves to lead from bitterness.  Sometimes the greatest pain produces our greatest lessons.  p. 87
  • Stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV p. 87
  • Be kind and gracious, but always hire for at least the next level of growth.  p. 95
  • “Settling is no fun.  It’s a malignant habit, a slippery slope that takes you to mediocrity.  The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on.”  Seth Godin, Tribes p. 97
  • “Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  James Baldwin p. 99
  • Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional! p. 113
  • Insecure, threatened, stressed-out leaders give, but they don’t know how to receive.  Secure leaders receive with humble, thankful hearts, and the grace multiplies in glad giving and sharing.  p. 124
  • “To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and dark.  In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”  Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel p. 127
  • Many people only seek covering when they are in trouble and find themselves trying to deal with long-term problems with short-term friends.  Being uncovered isn’t just inconvenient, it’s dangerous.  p. 133
  • “The worst thing that can happy to any of us is to have a path that’s made too smooth.  One of the greatest blessings the Lord ever gave us was a cross.”  Charles Spurgeon p. 135
  • “The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion.  Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”  John Stott p. 176
  • “At the timberline where the storms strike with the most fury, the sturdiest trees are found.”  Hudson Taylor p. 185
  • Failure isn’t the end of the world for those who are open to God’s tender, strong hand.  It’s the beginning of a new wave of insight, creativity, and effectiveness—but only if we pay attention and learn the lessons God has for us.  p. 195
  • “There are two pains in life: the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret.  You choose.”  Wayne Cordeiro p. 199
  • Don’t run from your pain.  Don’t deny it exists.  It’s the most effective leadership development tool the world has ever known.  You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain, so raise it! p. 241

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