Two years ago, I started reading Replenish by Lance Witt. I chose the book because of my experiences with stress (see Hitting the Wall, which includes links to other parts of the story). The Leadership Team at Centre Grove also spent several months reading and discussing the book.
There’s a lot of helpful content in the fairly short book. The book is divided into 41 short chapters. It’s impossible to cover it all, but here are some of my favorite highlights.
Witt cautions about the idolization of leadership that has taken place over the last few decades. He warns, “All of the training and focus on leadership has been a gift, but we must not turn it into an idol.”
One of my favorite quotes from the book states …
We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.
Witt says, “When leaders neglect their interior life, they run the risk of prostituting the sacred gift of leadership.”
Ministry is a character profession. I can’t separate my private life from my public leadership.
It’s important that leaders are spiritually healthy!
… the Great Commission will not be fulfilled by human ingenuity or innovative thinking alone. This God-sized task will only be completed by Spirit-filled, spiritually healthy churches. And these churches will not be spiritually healthy unless their leaders are spiritually healthy.
Witt’s language about the “front-stage life” and the “back-stage life” of leaders is helpful. Witt says, “We all have a front-stage life and a back-stage life.” The front stage is about “doing” and the back stage is about “being,” and the two are connected. “If we neglect the back stage, eventually the front stage will fall apart.”
Leaders must stay connected to God. “When you have disconnected from the Vine (Jesus), ministry will become joyless striving and stressful pushing.”
Unfortunately, leaders can often become too focused on “image management.” Witt states, “You are walking in a ministry minefield when your outward success begins to outpace your inward life.” A healthy soul helps guard against preoccupation with image management.
Witt writes about the danger of ambition. God-given ambition is good. “But when it is hijacked by self and ego, it can leave a wake of destruction in its path.”
When approval is the driving force in your life, it messes with your motives. You run decisions through the filter of ‘What will people think?’ rather than ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
One of the things that prevents many of us from being healthy spiritually is the pace in which we live. Witt writes about the “need for speed,” and contends, “Hurry is a devious soul enemy.”
Many of us live with a stuck accelerator. The frantic pace of life resides in the church as much as in the community. … We keep the pedal to the metal, trying to grab every possible opportunity. Adrenaline is our hormone of choice.
But Witt argues, “Following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul,” noting that “busyness will damage your soul.”
Intimacy with God is critical for leaders. Witt states, “there’s a correlation between my communion with God and my courage for God. The deeper my intimacy, the greater my tenacity to stand courageously.” He notes, “Solitude creates capacity for God.”
The final section of Witt’s book is on healthy teams.
If you want to talk about an organization’s true spiritual health, you have to look at the health of the team that leads it.
Witt believes, “A healthy staff culture does not happen by accident. You won’t drift into it any more than you would drift into a healthy marriage.” Teams must become a family. “In order for your team to be healthy, there must be a sense of family. You must learn to laugh together, cry together, and resolve conflict together.”