There is a quality that every leader who is going to lead over the long haul must have. That quality is resilience. Websters defines resilience this way: "The ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens." I would define leadership resilience as the ability to deal with hard situations and difficult people without becoming overly emotional, angry or cynical. It is also the ability to live with a soft heart but very thick skin and not to be discouraged by the inevitable challenges and personal attacks that leadership brings.

Leaders who lack resilience:

  • Become easily discouraged
  • Feel threatened and deflated when attacked
  • Become emotional when things don't go their way
  • Can become subject to depression and moodiness
  • Are often fearful
  • Can easily overact to situations that seem out of their control
  • Crack under pressure
I am an avid reader of biographies and would suggest that individuals like Winston Churchill, FDR, Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher were individuals who personified resilience. Each of these were able to overcome regular difficulties, keep their cool and continue to lead. In the New Testament Paul certainly has this trait.

The test of leadership is not what happens when all is well but when all is hell. That is when the mettle of our souls and resolve is tested and where our resilience or lack of it becomes critical. When I hear leaders complain and feel sorry for themselves, express significant emotions, anger and frustration I often wonder if they have the resilience to lead well. 

Resilient ministry leaders usually have the following characteristics:

  • They have thick skin and have learned how to weather personal attacks
  • They take the long view and know that the irritations of the moment will pass
  • Their self worth is not wrapped up in their leadership role and realize that leaders are often targets
  • Their focus is on the mission of the organization rather than on themselves 
  • They have learned to see the tough times as leadership challenges 
  • They are generally optimists and communicate hope to their team mates
  • They have a good team around them
  • They have a high view of God's sovereignty and therefore are able to trust Him
  • They have learned that anxiety is wasted energy and manage it well
Resilience can be learned and should grow over time as we recognize that the crises of the moment do pass, life does go on, the world does not fall apart and the worst possible case does not usually come to be. It has much to do with our perspective on God, on life, and ourselves. The more we focus on ourselves the less resilient we will be. The more we focus on the mission and on God the more resilience we will have.

Posted from Oakdale, MN

All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

  • Jun 26, 2015
  • Category: News
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