In recent years Junior has been increasingly sought for leadership development. While many of these are ministerial or church-related, he has also helped communicators, sports coaches, developing business leaders, even teachers and doctoral candidates, in some of the most nuanced and often overlooked ways. Similarly, a growing number of leaders have expressed interest in a regular devotional, mini-teaching, or commentary from Junior on leadership. In response, the bit below is for you. (All content here and sitewide is the intellectual and copyright property of JDM. All rights reserved.)
When doing multiperson leadership equipping, Junior loves to use small "Mount of Olives" home meetings. These relaxed, candid environments compel leaders to ask questions, share freely, dialogue in-depth, nourish interleader intimacy, and practice their gifted craft in a nurturant, but guided, setting. Individual follow-up spins off naturally and supernaturally from these unusually productive meetings.
As a leader, you are the genes of your group or organization. Your unique helix of personality, instincts, abilities, experience, and maturity level will determine the visible nature and quality of your group. Not only does this impose a stern mandate of personal growth and leadership development, it cautions us to wisely discern the epigenetics of leadership also: who we agree to lead, under what conditions, and for how long.
A favorite JDM scripture on leadership captures "the heart" and "the brain" of leadership, or said another way, inner health and leadership skill. It is Psalm 78:72 (NKJV): So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Below is Junior's most recent devotional, mini-teaching, or commentary on leadership. Sometimes these are ministerial, sometimes ubiquitous or some other specialization.
On Psychological Sickness in Pentecostal-Charismatic Leadership:
The growing crisis surfacing in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, projected to reach some type of critical mass in 7-10 years, is that of hidden psychological sickness among its leadership. While the movement has restored precious blessings and needed dimensions to the global ekklesia--a fuller worship experience, a redeployment of all the spiritual gifts, a celebration of women in ministry, a revival of supernatural Christianity, and others--it has also brought new problems and crises into the ekklesia. One of those crises is unaddressed mental illness within its leadership, hiding under the cover of revelations, visions, dreams, "feeling in the Spirit", manifestations, and sociopathic leadership structures.
JDM believes, unapologetically, that God speaks today in a variety of ways. We absolutely reject cessationism. We absolutely reject the idea that God took a power nap after the New Testament was written and compiled. The crisis is not whether God still speaks today or whether God still acts miraculously today. Of course He does.
Rather, the crisis is that an astonishing lack of wisdom has created a shelter for psychological sickness in Pentecostal-Charismatic leadership, a shelter that takes the form of spiritual language and themes. For example, what is often imagination and hallucination is called a vision. What is often a dream rising from the subconscious, and its unresolved wishes, hopes, concerns, fears, and traumas, is called a prophetic dream (see Ecclesiastes 5:3 and Isaiah 29:7,8 for two great scriptures on self-dreams). What is often natural intuition (which is often wrong) or simply strong emotion (which is often wrong) is called feeling in the Spirit. What is often a psychotic break, a fit of mania, or unhealed trauma expressing itself psychosomatically is called a divine manifestation. What is often raw control and congregational stranglehold is called spiritual authority and "touch not mine anointed" (read The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen). What is often malignant narcissism, and varying levels of sociopathy or psychopathy, is called being "a king and priest upon the earth".
Once again, I reiterate, the referred-to spiritual concepts and practices have New Testament support. Does God occasionally speak in a vision or dream? Of course. Do our spiritual senses sometimes present themselves as an impression or hunch or felt disposition? Sometimes, yes. Does God occasionally manifest in great power upon our being, leading to intense emotional or physical reactions? Sometimes, yes. The issue, then, is not in these and other concepts and practices the New Testament strongly supports. Rather, the issue is in how they are being manipulated to hide, suppress, ignore, or fully deny serious mental conditions in leadership.
In many Pentecostal-Charismatic groups, the psychological sickness in leadership is so well-hidden from the people, so well-suppressed even from themselves, so well-ignored under the constant distraction of endless ministry, so well-denied to anyone with a suspicious or trained eye, that such leaders can go many years on end without getting the professional help they need. The most heartbreaking layer of this crisis, however, is the fate of the common people within such churches and ministries. They sense something is significantly unhealthy and broken with the leader(s), but they cannot pinpoint it for a variety of reasons. Without enough knowledge and maturity of their own, without enough spiritual skills and psychological skills and life skills to uncover what is actual reality, they are swept away in the zeitgeist these deeply unwell leaders cast upon them.
What does one do? As I have said for many years, born-again individuals in the Pentecostal-Charismatic zone have to do brutally honest soul-searching. Uncomfortably honest soul-searching. Ask yourself questions with God that you really do not want to ask. Why, really, are you involved with the groups you are involved with? Is it because God truly called you there (the typical knee-jerk answer)...or is it your own deeper issues attracting you to such groups? In those groups, are you finding cover and false shelter for areas deep inside where you need outside help and unusual growth? Are you following this or that leader because your own issues match that of your leader? Be honest. Your emotion and imagination are masquerading as revelation.
You cannot outrun the light and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. A disastrous crisis is looming and metastasizing in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. The crisis is emanating from leaders who are significantly unwell psychologically, unwell enough to need professional help spiritually, practically, and possibly medically. Have the wisdom, self-awareness, and maturity to see this now and seek out healthier pastures with healthier shepherds.