CNLP 258: Rusty George on Suicide in Leadership, Grieving Your Losses and Recovering from Self-Righteous Legalism

Suicide is a growing problem in America, and one of the hardest to deal with personally and as a leader. Rusty George not only recently lost a campus pastor to suicide, he lost his friend of over twenty years.

Rusty talks in detail about the dynamics of responding to a suicide, helping people grieve, how to grieve your loss as a leader and why suicide is so difficult to handle. Plus, Rusty talks about his new book and how to leave legalism behind.

Welcome to Episode 258 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Guest Links

Rusty George | Facebook | InstagramTwitter

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CNLP 095: The Challenges of Scaling a Church – An Interview with Rusty George

Is Suicide the “Unpardonable” Sin?

Episode Links

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3 Insights from Rusty

1. Don’t process tragedy alone

When facing tragedy, the natural reaction for any leader is to take the blame. You will feel responsible. You’ll think things like “this was on my watch”, “how did I let this happen?”, “he was my friend”, but there’s only so much blame you can take. At the end of the day, people do what they’re going to do and what they want to do. As a leader you have to quickly shift from blaming yourself to figuring out how to help those who’ve been hurt.

Don’t process grief alone. One of the biggest lesson’s Rusty’s church learned was that people can’t go around grief or get over grief. People have to go through grief and they can’t do it alone.

2. If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, tell somebody

You’re not alone in this struggle. We all have those moments. You may think that yours is at a different level, that no one knows what you feel like. There is somebody else that knows how deep your pain is. The quicker you get that secret out into the open and talk to somebody about it, the easier it will be to find healing.

As church leaders, we can get to a spot where we assume that somebody else will pick up our ministry if we take our own life. We think things will be better off without us. Rusty can tell you that is a complete lie. It is not easier without you. We need you healed and we need you here. Your family, your staff, and your community is better with you around.

If you’re grieving or contemplating suicide, there are options available to help you. Click here to find help for yourself or someone you love.

3. To kill your inner Pharisee, live in the Grace of God

Modern day Pharisees are one of the biggest reasons people walk away from God and the church. If we lose sight of how much we need God’s grace, we lose the ability to extend it to others. You begin to compare yourself to people and think you are better than them because you are better at “following the rules”. This is how you end up as a Pharisee.

One of the best ways to remove that hypocrisy is to pray that God would give you his heart for lost people. That’s a prayer God always says yes to and will help soften your heart towards the people you normally would judge. As we go through this mindset change we begin to live lives marked with true justice, mercy, and humility and end up attracting the people we would have judged back into the church.

Quotes from Episode 258

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Didn’t See It Coming Will Help You Solve the Problems Most Leaders Miss

If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.

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Next Episode: Andrew Stanley 

He never even thought about doing comedy until his final year in college. Less than four years later, Andrew Stanley quit his day job and went on the road full time as a comic whose career has really taken off. Andrew shares how he learned to write jokes, what makes for a good bit and bad one, how to deliver lines to engage an audience, and what it was like growing up as Andy Stanley’s son and Charles Stanley’s grandson.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 259.

1 Comment

  1. Dana Williams on April 17, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Jim was a friend, mentor, boss and like a brother to me. I clicked play and maybe I shouldn’t have. The details of Rusty’s account are too personal for such a public forum.

    Love love love your show, Carey. This one was hard to hear.

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