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The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast

Many pastors and church leaders today feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated that their churches don’t seem to be making mature disciples. The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast explores the paradigms and practices leaders need to transform their church culture and multiply deeply changed disciples.
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The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast
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Now displaying: 2023
Dec 26, 2023
As we approach 2024, there couldn't be a better time to revisit your discipleship strategy. Here's why...

In North America, we are ramping up towards another election year. For most Americans, this has become a time of increased anxiety, stress, and relational volatility. As a culture, we lack the tools to have difficult conversations (especially political ones) without resorting to blaming, name-calling, avoiding, and "dirty fighting."

Sadly, we do this in the church as well.

For the first 17 years of my Christian walk, this was all I ever knew. I simply mirrored what I learned from my family of origin. My mother yelled and screamed. My father was an appeaser who later exploded in anger. I learned to become an appeaser, which cost me dearly in my marriage, leadership, and church.

For both Geri and I, we had to completely re-learn what it looks like to fight (and negotiate differences) in the new family of Jesus. We now call this skill "Clean Fighting Vs. Dirty Fighting".

I'm convinced every pastor, leader, and church needs this one skill to flourish in 2024.  
 
In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about the ins and outs of "Clean Fighting", the final and most important skill of Emotionally Healthy Relationships
Dec 12, 2023
We're in the thick of the holiday season – a time full of joy, yet jam-packed with people, parties, and productions.

This season has a dizzying effect on everyone - but especially leaders. One temptation is to put a smile on our face while skimming over the frustrations, disappointments, and other inner workings of our souls.

We have people and situations that are bothering us at a core level, but rather than leaning into difficult and heartfelt conversations, we choose instead to avoid them. When we do this, we step out of integrity.

This was how I operated for years as a pastor. I had people that were getting under my skin, but no tools to communicate what I was feeling in a healthy way. I chose instead to pretend I was feeling one way when secretly I was angry.

Take a moment to reflect. Is there a situation that is bothering you? 
  • A staff member is chronically late to team meetings
  • Your children are texting during a family meal
  • A volunteer is saying they are doing their role, but they clearly are not
  • A church elder or board member is living a non-exemplary life
  • Someone dropped the ball on getting out promotions for your Christmas Eve service.
Chances are, you have plenty of other examples.

To live and lead with integrity, we must be able to disentangle our emotions and values so we communicate them to others in a healthy way.

This is why my wife Geri and I developed a tool called the "Ladder of Integrity". It's a series of questions that we use to identify our emotions, values, and hopes. This allows us to communicate to others with clarity and kindness.
 
In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about climbing the Ladder of Integrity, an essential skill of Emotionally Healthy Relationships
Nov 28, 2023
To be an emotionally healthy leader requires many skills, practices, and rhythms. Over the last several weeks, we've explored many relationship skills that are non-negotiable for leaders.

But if there is just ONE skill I'm convinced every leader must master, it's "Incarnational Listening."

David Augsberger wrote, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”

When you master this relationship skill,
  • Your spouse and friends will feel seen and heard.
  • Your staff and volunteers will feel like you get them.
  • Your church will experience you as compassionate and present.
  • Your love for others will grow exponentially.
In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about the skill of "Incarnational Listening" that is a part of Emotionally Healthy Relationships

I want to encourage you. This is one of the toughest skills to do well, but when you stick with it, I guarantee you it will change everything.
Nov 14, 2023

For the first 17 years of my Christian life, my emotional life was completely divorced from my spiritual life.  Or so I thought.

When sadness, anger, or disappointment surfaced from my soul, I did not see them as gifts. As a leader, I saw my emotions as interruptions to "my real work" – moving the church forward and reaching the lost!

As a result, I was not present with myself, with God, or with others. I saw my sadness as something to be overcome through prayer and Scripture. I would declare, "the joy of the Lord is my strength!" while ignoring the deep cries of my heart.

The truth is that emotions never die. They are only buried alive. They always resurface, leaking into other parts of our lives and relationships. 

It took a work of God for this to change in my life and marriage. When my wife Geri and I discovered the permission to explore our emotional life, it was like opening up a dam. The world went from black and white to color almost overnight.

Emotionally healthy leaders see their emotions as invitations, not obstacles to the mission of God.

The fruit of this journey leads to less anxiety and more freedom in our lives, leadership, and relationships.

In today's podcast episode, my wife Geri and I share more about the skill of emotional discovery we call "Explore the Iceberg" in Emotionally Healthy Relationships
 
Bottom line, your emotional life is a matter of life and death!

Oct 31, 2023

Leaders, by definition, are captivated by the future – moving forward, making progress, and changing the world.

But what many leaders fail to appreciate is that we are all anchored in our past. In other words, none of us are "blank slates". We each bring the blessings and curses of our families of origin (Exodus 20:5) into our relationships, churches, organizations, and businesses. 

Emotionally healthy leaders understand that you cannot go forward without first going backward.

That is why the GENOGRAM is one of the core tools in both parts of the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Course.

When I became a Christian, I believed I was a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17) and that I no longer needed to deal with my past. However, when I discovered the genogram tool, I found a new way to bring all of the baggage of my family of origin to Jesus to be changed. 

The truth is – you cannot change what you are unaware of.

In today's podcast episode, Geri and I share our history with this powerful tool and how it helped us name the reality of our past to catalyze the transforming work of Jesus in our lives and leadership. Don't miss this one!

Oct 17, 2023
When was the last time someone let you down?
Or can you think of a recent moment where YOU let someone else down?
I'll bet the catalyst of these disappointments comes down to one thing -  unmet expectations.

The truth is – unclear and unmet expectations have the power to rip apart relationships, divide staff teams, blow up families, and sink entire churches. That's why expectations are a matter of life and death!

There are 4 primary ways expectations go wrong:
  • Your expectation is unconscious. You didn't even know you had an expectation until it was violated.
  • Your expectation is unrealistic. It is not reasonable given the person or circumstance.
  • Your expectation is unspoken. You did not clearly articulate your expectation to another person.
  • Your expectation is un-agreed upon. The other person never agreed to follow-through with your expectation.
The good news is – this can all be remedied by learning the life-saving skill of Clarifying Expectations.

On today's podcast, I'm joined by my wife Geri, as we explore the third of 8 essential relationship skills that every leader must adopt in order to love and lead like Jesus.

Take a listen to today's podcast.
Oct 3, 2023
Leadership can be a painful journey - especially in a church or ministry that depends on the depth and quality of the relationships within.

Yet, in over 4 decades of leadership, I've found that so much of this pain is completely UNNECESSARY.

Why? Because much of the pain we experience is the fruit of wrong assumptions.

Assumptions are like a dragon that seeks to destroy our well-being.

·      People quit their jobs over wrong assumptions
·      Churches split over wrong assumptions
·      Couples divorce over wrong assumptions
·      Families stop talking to one another over wrong assumptions.

When you and I make assumptions about others without checking them out, it’s easy to start telling ourselves stories about them in our heads that are not true. We are bearing false witness in our own thoughts, resulting in damaged relationships. 

The principle is simple: NEVER assume you know what a person is thinking or feeling.   
 
On today's podcast, I'm joined by my wife Geri, as we explore the second of 8 essential relationship skills that every leader must adopt in order to unleash the God-given voice of our people.

This skill is called "STOP MIND READING", and once you learn this, it could very well save your life and ministry.

Take a listen to today's podcast.
Sep 19, 2023

In over four decades of leadership, I've come to the conclusion that one of the biggest gaps in our leadership training comes down to one essential skill...

Creating safety where everyone around you feels empowered to communicate clearly and honestly.

Without this skill, church teams remain silenced - unable to speak truth and creating the conditions for an environment of frustration, resentment, and judgement.

On today's podcast, I'm joined by my wife Geri, as we explore the first of 8 essential relationship skills that every leader must adopt in order to unleash the God-given voice of our people.

We'll model a powerful skill called "Community Temperature Reading" and talk about how it applies to real life leadership scenarios.

Imagine leading a church where every staff, leader, and volunteer knows how to communicate clearly. Imagine a culture, where everyone feels safe to tell the truth and has the skills needed to do so. Imagine the unity that is possible when every voice is heard.

Take a listen to today's podcast.

Sep 5, 2023
Could you forgive someone if you knew they murdered your entire family?

It sounds far-fetched. But this is the question posed in As We Forgive - a documentary about the tragedies of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the stories of two women as they came face to face with the men who killed their families.

It provoked the question - Would I be capable of forgiving my enemies like this?

This is the center point of Jesus' most shocking, counterintuitive teaching - "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)

In saying this, Jesus set a new benchmark for love. He turned the new world order upside down. For Christians, the key distinguishing mark of spiritual maturity is the way we love our enemies.

In today's podcast, I walk through the 3 reasons our love often stops short of this measurement, and what we can do to deepen the way we love others.

(Hint, this is all a precursor for where we'll be headed over the next several weeks of the podcast!) 
 
Aug 22, 2023
Language builds culture.

Recently on the podcast, I shared 5 timeless leadership axioms - portable and powerful phrases that have become adopted by emotionally healthy leaders all around the world.

For example..."Jesus may be in your heart, but grandpa is in your bones".

It's an easier (and more playful) way of getting at the truth that everyone is deeply affected by their family of origin, going back hundreds of years.

Today on the podcast, I continue this series by sharing 5 new axioms that I believe you will find helpful. These leadership sayings are extremely useful to adopt as you build a healthy team and church culture.

I pray you will memorize them, ponder them, and make space to allow the biblical truth to penetrate you.
Aug 8, 2023
Movements with longevity are sustained through shared, easily understood language.

This most often comes through the development of axioms - short, memorable phrases that capture the essence of truth in simple ways.

Reflecting on the last two decades of leading Emotionally Healthy Discipleship, I've been able to identify at least 10 core axioms (probably more like 25!) that have stood the test of time. In many ways, they are a "cliff-notes" introduction to an emotionally healthy church culture.

In today's podcast, I share the first 5 timeless axioms that have shaped the culture of what we call Emotionally Healthy Leadership. (ie. "Jesus may be in your heart, but grandpa is in your bones."

If you are a leader, these axioms are extremely helpful to use with your teams as simple ways to build a healthy team and church culture.

I pray you will memorize them, ponder them, and make space to allow the biblical truth to penetrate you.
 
Jul 25, 2023

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the fastest growing stream of the church is the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. In terms of overall numbers, it represents 644 million Christians world wide. This is 8.3% of the world population. By 2050, it will reach over 1 billion people. Unbelievable!

We need the power of God, gifts of the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders for the global mission of the church. Much of my personal spiritual and leadership journey was formed in the charismatic movement. We regularly experienced the outpouring of God's power in our church. It was electric.

And yet I was still proud, defensive, distant, not present, unable to connect relationally, conflict avoidant, unaware internally, and unlovingThis disconnect is what led to the birth of Emotionally Healthy Discipleship.

In today's episode, I unpack 5 key contributions of Emotionally Healthy Discipleship that allow us to walk in the healthy, long-term release of God’s power. 

Jul 11, 2023

For leaders, one of the most frustrating parts of decision-making is this...

It....takes....time.

Sure, sometimes quick decisions are necessary. But most consequential decisions (that shape the future of your life, church, and ministry) require the ability to slow down and wait. Usually for longer than is comfortable for you.

In order to let your judgments (discernments) come from deep within, you cannot in any way be pressed or hurried. You must wait.

To be clear, waiting does not mean you are doing nothing.  You are doing the most important something there is. In today's podcast, I share more about what God is actually developing in you in times of waiting. Then I take time to address several questions listeners have submitted.

Jun 27, 2023

Decision-making is primarily about discernment. It's the ability to make decisions that align with God's will for your life and ministry.

The truth is - discernment is an art. It takes practice, attention, and a lifetime to develop.

But if there is one core practice that is the foundation of discernment, it is learning to pay attention to the movement of God in your own soul through consolations and desolations.

"Consolations and desolations" are terms offered by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits over 500 years ago to describe the inner feelings that move you toward God and the ones that take you away from God.  

Leaders who are able to slow down and pay attention to the inner work of God will not only be effective, they will be able to lead from joy, rest, and freedom.

Jun 13, 2023

One of the primary tasks of spiritual leadership is the ability to make prayerful, wise decisions.

Yet many leaders find it difficult to invest the time and space necessary for sharp discernment. The result is that our decisions become dull, lacking precision and power. Over time, flippant decision-making inflicts tremendous consequences on us and those we lead.

In the first episode of this new podcast series, we discuss the importance of boundaries to keep us surrendered to God’s purposes. Why? Because any time God calls us to a specific work, the devil tempts us to live beyond our boundaries. This happens in every season of our life!

When we discern and yield to the gravity of God's purpose, life flourishes. This is the first step to becoming leaders who make sharp decisions.

May 30, 2023

Years ago, we were doing some strategic planning at the church I had founded in Queens, NY. We were reflecting on what contributed to our growth over a 26 year period.

A single word kept reappearing on the whiteboard - "BASEMENT"

How did we disciple so many quality leaders, many of whom are still leading today?

Hint: it wasn't what happened on the stage. It was what happened in the basement.

Matthew 28 tells us to "make disciples of all nations". But many leaders today feel a pressure to make their discipleship strategies big and public rather than small and hidden.

Jesus modeled a different way of making disciples. In fact, he flipped the entire thing upside down. In today's podcast, I share with you why real discipleship starts in the basement.

May 16, 2023
Eight years after planting New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, I was exhausted.

The pressure of preaching and teaching weekly messages, along with the rest of my
leadership responsibilities, left me depleted. Although our ministry was growing, I
often felt like I was gaining the world but losing my own soul.
 
What I lacked, and what so many of us still lack today, is a way to teach and preach for Jesus that properly flows out of a deep inner life with him.

What I discovered is that there is a way to engage in this weighty work of speaking for Jesus that is light and easy rather than heavy and hard, that strengthens rather than diminishes our relationship with him, and that is marked by joy and spaciousness rather than anxiety and pressure.

May 2, 2023

Affliction. It's a topic that nobody wants to talk about (including me).

But as it relates to TRUE LEADERSHIP, it is a costly mistake to avoid our afflictions. Why? Because this is how God matures us into spiritual mothers and fathers of the faith.

By "affliction," I'm referring to any kind of hurt, loss, betrayal, broken relationship, abandonment, or disorienting circumstance. While these are obviously things we don't want, they are also unavoidable.

Many of us run from our afflictions, seeing them as obstacles to our life and leadership. We distract, jump over, sidestep, and ignore. But Jesus called us to take up our cross and follow him. And when you're on the cross, you can't just jump off!

The good news is that God doesn't abandon us in our hardships. In fact – if we're willing to PAY ATTENTION, God uses our afflictions to develop us into the type of leaders worth following.

Take a listen to today's podcast episode.

Apr 18, 2023

One of the greatest threats to leading with joy is giving into the temptation of overcommitment.

When our lives are crowded, cluttered, and cramped, it is difficult to hear God and live in loving union with Him. The irony is, we can "fit in" regular practices of Sabbath and silence while still being driven by an overscheduled life.

But how do we resist this temptation?

Silence, solitude, and sabbath must become our practices.
AND spaciousness must become our mindset.

In order to live spacious lives, we must avoid the critical traps that keep us settling for an overcommitted life.

  • What would it feel like to live with breathing room?
  • How would it feel to limit your "Yes" and claim more margin in your schedule?
  • What if you could build in time for extended thinking, praying, and being?


On today's podcast, I identify several traps that keep you from the gift of spaciousness and offer wisdom that will help you live with a renewed sense of joy.

Apr 4, 2023

Many leaders today "know" the importance of a slowed-down spirituality.

So why do so many continue to feel overloaded and over scheduled, often working 3 jobs, taking on new side hustles, and remain driven by the fear of missing out? Why can't we stop overcommitting?

Listen, I know this struggle firsthand. And I've found that it goes deeper than knowing intellectually and theologically the right thing to do.

On today's podcast, I tackle this question head-on in two parts:
  1. How do you break free from the roots of overcommitment inside yourself?
  2. How do you help others break free from overcommitment as you lead them?
This is an important one. I pray that as you listen, you begin to experience a newfound freedom in Christ.
Mar 21, 2023

Recently we crossed an unbelievable threshold with the Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast with over 10 million lifetime podcast downloads. I couldn't be more surprised, humbled, and thankful for this milestone moment. 

I say "surprised" because back in 1996, when we first started, the term "emotional health" was considered heretical in much of the church!

Now 25 years later, we can see that the cultural landscape has changed dramatically. Not only is emotional health received, but in many ways, it is now considered a promotional buzzword.

In today's podcast, I share my observations of what I consider 3 counterfeit versions of emotional health that we settle for, but then cast a vision for an authentic life with God.

Mar 7, 2023

I was recently asked by someone...

"Pete, if you could go back and give yourself advice in the different seasons of life and ministry, what would you say?"

The truth is – every decade has its own unique invitations. As I reflected, I realized that I would say something slightly different to myself at 25, 35, 45, and even 55.

Today on the podcast, I share with you some fresh insights as I look back on my own journey and development. While my journey is different than yours, I'm hoping you'll be able to learn from my lessons - both the good and the bad!

Feb 21, 2023
Many of us have come to believe that the Christian life is synonymous with constant happiness. We think we're on the right track if the trajectory of our lives is "up and to the right" - always improving, always leveling up.

But this way of thinking leaves little room for grief and sadness. When we experience real loss, we see it as an abnormal alien invasion, not as a divine invitation.

And yet, Jesus shows us that to welcome and hold sorrow before God is central to our leadership and discipleship.

In today's podcast episode, I share the importance of finding the treasure buried in grief and loss, and how we can train other leaders to do the same.

I encourage you to watch our full training video online in our Leader's Training Vault. It's completely free and only takes one minute to register.

For now, you can listen to today's episode here...
Feb 7, 2023

I was 19 when I came to Christ and started my training as a Christian leader.

As a young leader, I was taught many valuable things. But nobody told me about the most powerful gift leaders can bring to those they lead.

But I've learned (through my own failures) that the greatest gift leaders can actually give is becoming an "incarnational presence" – being DEEPLY PRESENT with people like Jesus.

In today's podcast episode, we look at the norm for most churches and leaders, but then we'll explore the beauty of what can happen in our church cultures when we learn to lead in this way.

I encourage you to watch our full training video online in our Leader's Training Vault. It's completely free and only takes one minute to register.

For now, you can listen to today's episode here...

Jan 24, 2023

As a pastor or leader, your primary role is to develop and disciple others.

More than simply "getting things done", we are called to prioritize the growth and maturity of the people and leaders around us. We do this by learning particular skills and tools with which we can coach our leaders, our team, and those in our ministry. 
 
One game-changing tool that I use to coach others is called the “Genogram”.

The genogram is a powerful visual map to document the history and dynamics of our family relationships and their impact on us, over three to four generations.
 
In today's episode, I share the 6 stages I use to coach other leaders through the Genogram so that you can do the same.
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