Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


One book we started reading is Lance Witt's Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul. I bought it strictly on the title. Didn't really hear about it from anyone. But wow...what a timely book for me and Susan! We're not very far into it, but what we've read so far is outstanding. We each have a copy to make our own notes, but take turns reading it outloud to each other, and we talk through the questions at the end of each chapter. It's very reflective and introspective, but for a linear or concrete person, it has enough data to also be quite compelling. For example, Witt notes the following:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America. (emphasis mine)
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  • Over 50% of pastors' wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly or even a daily basis.
  • [Only] One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.

For the record, for the past year or so, I have been in one of the most healthy places I've ever been. I have worked through some of my own internal struggles and issues (though the scars remain). I didn't feel discouraged or depressed (though there are always challenges, to be sure). Susan doesn't feel that ministry has been the most destructive thing to our family (neither do I, though there has certainly been a cost), I'm not burned out (just a little tired). In fact, I know I was born to do this and am in exactly the place and role where God wants me to be.

But the data is still startling. And the risk is still high. Ignoring it would be a huge mistake.

So, I appreciated the responsibility that Witt places on the leader. He quotes Quaker author Parker Palmer: "A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what's going on inside of himself or herself...lest the act of leadership create more harm than good." Witt follows with a grave commentary: "When leaders neglect their interior life, they run the risk of prostituting the sacred gift of leadership. And they run the risk of being destructive instead of productive."

I particularly appreciated this one simple statement he made, "It's scary to realize that the path to external success and internal emptiness can be the same road."

So, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of this book and to processing through it with my best friend and the one who knows me better than anyone in the world.

Tomorrow, we're going to take a little canoe trip down the Shenandoah River, stopping along the way to read together and have a little picnic.


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