Guest Post: Seeking to Understand the Rise, Fall, and Loss of Young Pastors by Robert Stewart

Bob was born to medical missionary parents in Burundi, Africa.  The father of six, he and his pastoral counselor wife, Shari, share a psychiatric practice in Louisville, KY and have long worked in the support and care of missionaries and pastors both here and abroad. A hundred years from now I’m sure that our descendants … Continue reading Guest Post: Seeking to Understand the Rise, Fall, and Loss of Young Pastors by Robert Stewart

When Advent Groaning Doesn’t Let Up In Time For Christmas

Jesus waits and longs with you. I shared this thought recently with a woman whose Advent waiting has lasted a few years. The trauma of abuse, the ongoing pain of a divorce, and the seasonal expectation of all things joyful and triumphant were conspiring against her, manifesting in some desperation, even despair. In the prior … Continue reading When Advent Groaning Doesn’t Let Up In Time For Christmas

Can you “narcissist-proof” a system?

If you’re building an organization/community from the ground up, what are steps to ensure it has the best shot of narcissist-proofing itself? Are there parameters you can set for health on the front side? Seth Haines asked this (@sethhaines on Twitter...a must follow), and I've been chewing on it since. His question took me back … Continue reading Can you “narcissist-proof” a system?

Rediscovering Nouwen | On Power and Intimacy

I'm continuing to reflect on Henri Nouwen's 1972 book The Wounded Healer. Now 46 years later, it's as important as ever to wrestle with Nouwen's invitation, particularly when it seems that our political and ecclesial leaders operate more from a posture of power rather than intimacy, particularly as we see our own propensity to live from … Continue reading Rediscovering Nouwen | On Power and Intimacy

Becoming a Wounded Healer

"The great illusion of leadership is to think that one can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” Henri Nouwen I've been re-visiting an old friend recently - Henri Nouwen - who is easily in my Top 5 most formative modern spiritual writers. The lanky Dutchman was a complicated … Continue reading Becoming a Wounded Healer

Believing Women in an Age of Narcissism

(Trigger Warning: If you've been sexually abused or assaulted, please bear in the mind that this piece includes disturbing details of sexual trauma) Step back from the political drama for a moment and consider a woman I saw for counseling years ago (with details changed). She's 39, and I've just officiated her wedding to a … Continue reading Believing Women in an Age of Narcissism

Grace (and the abuse of grace) for narcissists and abusers

I live daily with a paradox. On the one hand, grace is audacious, extravagant, immediate, and all-embracing. On the other, grace is painful, reconstructive, surgical, and slow. Grace is the deliverance from Egypt and grace is the long, grueling journey through a blistering wilderness. I live with this paradox because of the work I do. … Continue reading Grace (and the abuse of grace) for narcissists and abusers

Bill Hybels and the Future of the Church After #ChurchToo

When I read Phyliss Tickle's The Great Emergence five years ago, I couldn't help but think of that oft-misquoted line about Mark Twain's imminent demise: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." I'd read Regele's The Death of the Church more than a decade before, but after watching the so-called Emergent movement emerge and stumble, never … Continue reading Bill Hybels and the Future of the Church After #ChurchToo

Too far to fall: The pastor’s worst fear – Failure

Failure. It's a f-word of pastoral ministry. It's the worst fear, the deepest dread. "I'd rather be diagnosed with a fatal disease than fail," one candidate wrote on his psychological assessment. "Failure - that's just too far to fall," said another. I was fired in 2003. It was my greatest vocational humiliation. After serving a … Continue reading Too far to fall: The pastor’s worst fear – Failure

When Narcissism Comes to…Church Doctrine (Part 1 – Introduction)

(v. 2) Narcissism is not merely a psychological phenomenon. It's a theological one, too. It concerns how we speak of and participate in God's life. In the coming blog posts, I'm going to highlight how this impacts key doctrines and themes that are often used and abused by narcissists, especially narcissistic pastors, for the sake … Continue reading When Narcissism Comes to…Church Doctrine (Part 1 – Introduction)