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Leaders and Wholehearted Living

Posted on: April 5th, 2012 by Dr. Angela Bisignano

One of the highlights of my job is the wonderful privilege of people telling me their stories. I love listening. I find it a great honor and a joy that I get access to the hearts of people through their stories. I get to lead people on a journey, to make sense of their life experiences, encouraging them and giving them hope for their future.

I am reminded of the words once spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. He said,

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. ~Jer. 29:11-13 

God desires good things for our lives. He created us to be fully alive; to experience wholehearted living. In order to live wholehearted lives means we are willing to enter into the hidden places of our hearts. To live wholeheartedly means we have the courage to step into the areas of our lives that may be cut off, wounded or need some care. Living wholeheartedly takes courage.

  • It takes courage to be vulnerable.
  • It takes courage to tell the truth.
  • It takes courage to look at the wounded places of our hearts.
  • It takes courage to process & move beyond things that keep us from becoming all that we can be.

People can have a challenging time living wholeheartedly for many reasons. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Denial: Pretending that nothing is wrong, suppressing wounds and pain.
  • Pride: Ignoring deep pain believing that they can handle it on their own.
  • Fear:  Feels too frightening to journey to the difficult and painful places.
  • Secret sin: Shackled by the shame and the idea of being found out.
  • Stuck: They don’t know what to do or that they have a choice to come out of hiding.
One of the most significant obstacles for leaders is to have hidden areas of their hearts that they are not dealing with. These areas may be hidden for known or unknown reasons. Leadership can potentially be impacted by the degree to which leaders are unable to look at these areas. Leaders may be able to experience success for a time; however, sooner or later the repercussions of the hidden heart will impact their leadership. Here are some ways that leadership could be impacted:
  • Limits influence.
  • Unable to access the full range and depth of emotion that God has created us to experience.
  • An emotional deficit or problem in one area can lead to unhealthy compensation in another area (i.e., if a person is not dealing with the wound, they may mask the pain with an addiction).
  • Hiding out may mean creating a “false” self.
  • Limits ability to relationally connect.
  • Can affect significant relationships (i.e., spouse, children, friends).
  • Can affect job and/or leadership performance.
The good news is that we can experience emotional, psychological and spiritual freedom. If you feel a tug on your heart as you are reading this article, it might be that part of your heart longs to be set free. Living in an age where authenticity is en vogue is a great reminder that we are not alone. I think most of us long to live wholehearted lives. Embracing an authentic self is one of the most courageous things we can do.
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