The Dark Side of Change

The thing about major life transitions is that they expose all the junk in your life that you’ve found a way to cover up.  Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ve covered up… it could be insecurities, fears, weaknesses, habitual sins.  We find a way to cope with our inadequacies and in seasons where we’re comfortably living and leading we don’t even realize there are areas of our lives that could use some refining.

It was just about a year ago that a major season of transition began for me.  New job opportunity… cross country move… leaving longtime friends and community… embracing the unknown… joining a new team… selling our beloved home… settling into a new one…

Transitions stretch us.  Transitions change us.  Transitions expose us.

It seems that God keeps prompting me to dig deeper into the inadequacies that surface from the discomfort of change.  It’s been good.  It’s been healthy.  It’s been hard… and I’m certain it’s not over.

One of the resources that I’ve devoured in this season of change is Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima’s book Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures


The unsettling feeling of all the unknown over the last year has prompted me to recognize there are areas of my leadership that need a deeper dive.  My emotional and spiritual health need evaluation if I want to lead with greater strength and more conviction in this next season.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

“Because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language (the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church), the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late.”

“There comes a point in all leaders’ lives – if they remain in leadership long enough – when they will begin to experience the relational friction, organizational blow-ups, and personal pain that result from unidentified and unresolved inner-life issues.”

“The aspects of life that push us in a positive way toward success can also exert a negative pull, destroying our effectiveness.”

“Leaders that we perceive to be exceptionally confident and in command are often compensating for a deeply rooted sense of inferiority and insecurity.”

“Leaders who face their dark side and redeem it accomplish the most over the long run.”

Whatever season of leadership you’re in, I encourage you to read this one.  While it can feel a bit foreboding, the truth in this book is critical to your long term health as a leader.

Our great legacy as leaders will come from stewarding our personal and spiritual health.




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  • Carrie September 24, 2014  

    Dear Jenni….thank you so much for this post. As I’m preparing for a transition, I’m realizing how incredibly inadequate I feel as a leader as I face questions and other comments about why I would leave. Having delved into my junk, I thought I would be prepared for what I’m feeling and yet, each day brings new challenges and I find I don’t feel equipped to handle it. Really appreciate your candidness and will be picking up this book immediately. Thank you again for your candor and authenticity!

  • Christy September 25, 2014  

    This is one of my favorite (and most referenced) books! Interestingly enough, my older copy is entitled ‘Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: The Paradox of Personal Dysfunction’. The new title is more welcoming I think….:)

  • Chris Rivers September 25, 2014  

    Love where you went with this! I think there’s a lot we can learn from the word transition. These are great thoughts and such a challenging book to work through! Thanks Jenni