In 2018, Steve Carter was one of the named successors to Bill Hybels at Willow Creek. At 38, he was poised to become the senior pastor of one of the largest and most influential churches in America.
Steve talks about the devastating revelations about the ongoing abuse that had been happening under his predecessor’s leadership, leaving Willow Creek, what crisis taught him as a young leader, and why character matters so much.
Welcome to Episode 434 of the podcast. Listen 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.
Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about why we keep seeing so much moral failure in leaders.
The deepest truths about living like Jesus often come from leaders who are suffering, persecuted, and living in a hostile environment.
And through the beatitudes in Matthew 5, we know that people in difficult circumstances like these are often the closest to living like Jesus did.
World Vision invites you to listen to the voices of leaders from around the world! Leaders who have used their suffering and persecution to build and strengthen their faith.
Join Danielle Strickland and World Vision for a NEW series called “Right Side Up Soul Care.”
The Church is a force for good in the world and World Vision’s heart is for the Bride of Christ to be healthy and mobilized to be the church outside the four walls!
Sign up today at worldvision.org/Carey.
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Insights From Steve
1. It’s easy for your competency to outpace your character
Nobody wakes up one day and decides to blow up their life and leadership. But leaders end up doing it all the time. Why does this keep happening?
Carey and Steve agree that it’s too easy for your competency and your platform to outgrow your character as a leader. When that happens, you can easily begin to slide into behaviors and tendencies that lead to moral failure and burnout. To fight against this, work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.
2. Take the time to grieve your losses
Leadership can be a series of ungrieved losses. Steve experienced this first hand in the fall of 2018 after being named Bill Hybels’ successor, and being completely shocked when the scandal of Bill’s misconduct broke.
Steve’s natural reaction would have been to perform his way out of that difficult season, but God told him, “You can’t achieve your way out of this. You can only grieve your way through it.” Sometimes, as a leader, the only way to move forward is to grieve your losses.
3. You need to get down to the T.H.I.N.G. beneath the thing
In 2008, Steve had a very irrational overreaction to something in his life. When he admitted it to his mentor, his mentor told him that he needs to figure out what the “thing” is beneath that thing. His irrational actions were being caused by something underneath, and Steve needed to figure out what that was.
Since then, Steve has built out an acronym for finding the T.H.I.N.G. beneath the thing, and outlines it in his new book here. The acronym stands for triggers, hideouts, insecurity, narratives and grace. Through learning this framework, you’ll become better at understanding your deeper motivations and tendencies as a leader.
Quotes from Episode 434
Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?
Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.
Interested to Know Where You Stand?
In difficult times it’s so easy to step into a cynical attitude (or full-on lifestyle). Are you heading that direction? Are you already there? Take the Cynicism Quiz below to see where you might be. To learn more about the antidote to cynicism, check out the chapters on cynicism in Didn’t See it Coming.
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Next Episode: Jean Twenge
Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is a global leader in generation research.
She talks about the big spike in anxiety, depression, suicide and other mental health challenges she and other researchers noticed a decade ago, something she ties to the widespread adoption of smartphones. We explore what that means for Gen Z (or iGen) and for leaders and employers.
Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 435.