1) Diminished Power And Influence: As the level and activity of ministry grows and expands, God raises up new leaders. Within relatively short time, these new leaders with new ideas, new energies and new vitality gain credibility and influence. The presence of these new leaders brings about a shift in power, which may overshadow the power of the other leader.
2) Dashed Expectations: Feeling a shift of power away from the leader to other leaders, the person may the crashing of expectation that their abilities would always be valued at a very high level. This is especially true if they had a key role in a very critical time of ministry.
3) Feelings Of Being Used: “What was it all for?” as a troubled leader may reflects on all they have done. After all that, now the pastor and others are treating me as if I wasn’t valuable. Their moment of glory, they may feel, was only a passing token recognition of their efforts.
4) Jealousy: Though it may not be expressed directly, the frustration expressed resembles that of a scorned lover. Something important has been taken from them, and they want it back.
Though this may be expressed in several ways, perhaps one of the most common ways are to compare their own accomplishments favorably to others, minimize others accomplishments or the question the need for others’ efforts, to develop distrust of newly-arisen leaders, to point to many areas which are, in their view, out of control, to give many reasons why such-and-such ministry program won’t, can’t and shouldn’t work (over their dead body).
5) Feeling “Lost” Or “Out Of The Loop”: Since the ministry and leadership base are expanding, the individual may not physically be able to be involved in or monitor the ministry activities as in previous times. Indeed, some of these things may occur without their knowledge and consent. As a result they may feel out of the loop or lost in the power structure.
6) Rejection: As pastors urge the development of new leaders and give encouragement and direction to other leaders, the pastor’s time and energies previously devoted to this troubled leader becomes divided among others.
7) Sense of Worthlessness: In crisis, these troubled leaders may have enjoyed very close, frequent contact with the pastor. Indeed, during the crisis such leaders may have been the pastors’ confidant. Having recovered from the crisis, they may feel a lessened sense of worth since the Pastor no longer relies so heavily on their regular support as Moses needed Aaron since the church’s recovery has provided a broader base of supportive leadership.
8) Burn-out: Sometimes after the explosion of extraordinary energies over a long period of time, energy levels naturally drop. One’s mental, physical and spiritual energies simply need a recharge. Sooner or later, the “Elijah Syndrome” will strike–especially after those critical watershed events in ministry. Individuals will ask, “What was it all for?” as they lie under their “broom tree.”
9) Interpersonal Conflict: When troubled leaders emerge, sometimes its in response to their recognition of personality clashes, agenda differences, or other incompatibility factors. Frustrated by the conflict, troubled leaders may seek less appropriate ways to express the frustrations generated by personal differences with the pastor or other leaders.
10) Pastor-Leader Relationship Transformation: As discussed in the Ministry Health article #14, “The Five Types Of Coping Relationships,” Pastors may resource certain leaders to help uphold them during crisis. During crisis, this invaluable relationship can energize pastor, the troubled leader, and be a critical base of restoring and/or reforming ministry direction. Having passed the crisis, the need for the valued relationship subsides as the pastor gradually recovers from the anxious stress shift mode.
11) Coping Mechanism Failure: A helpful cliché for minister is to recognize that the “Issue Is Not The Issue” (cf. Ministry Health article 20). Often individuals will project anger and frustrations from their personal, spiritual, family, or professional lives in the church. Feeling out of control, a lack of respect, or a feeling of decisions being crammed down their throats in other areas of their life will be expressed in the church. Sometimes such out-of-the-norm behavior is a sign of coping mechanism failure.
12) Limitations of Giftedness: One of the remarkable but frustrating dynamics of the Spirit’s endowment of gifts to the faithful is that the giftedness of one individual lays the foundation for the giftedness of others.
Unfortunately, those who lay the foundations may not have the gifts necessary to build on their own foundation. To see others build on, change, enhance and get recognition for their efforts is difficult, especially when others’ efforts make the troubled leaders’ efforts obsolete via improvements, enhancement or greater effectiveness.
13) Weakened Physical Health: Though last in this listing, this factor is probably a part of more anxiety in trusted leaders than we might imagine. Whether it’s a cold that just won’t shake off, a feeling that they’re on the verge of being sick but not quite being sick, or en route to a not-yet-known medical diagnosis, a weakened body can and does affect the mind. Mental health issues also need to be considered.
14) Weakened Mental Health: Whatever their origin, depression, anxiety and other related disorders can be like having a “cold” or “flu” in your mind. When affected by even slight or moderate changes in mental health, even the most patient of leaders can become uncharacteristically “edgy” or suddenly “loose their cool.’
Sometimes these changes occur when subtle–but significant–changes in basic brain chemistry, especially Seratonin levels, occur. Those in the colder, cloudier winter climates (e.g. Michigan, Washington, et al) may also notice that leaders may become more “edgy.” Some might even notice that there are more anxious times or conflicts specifically during the months of February, March and into early April. Known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “SAD”, it is not a factor than should be casually overlooked. SAD may sometimes just be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
15) Spiritual Immaturity: Michigan District-LCMS Vice President Erwin Kostizen once advised that one of the most helpful insights in dealing with troubled leaders is to recognize that sometimes leaders are not always motivated by the cross.
Instead, motivated by attention and worldly recognition, some leaders become troubled when not getting enough attention and recognition from the pastor. Comfort, convenience and control needs often seem to overshadow any truly spiritual motivations. Leaders may be free of vices, but still not be moved by the cross. As one wise sage said, “After you rid of your vices, rid yourself of your virtues.”