Eight Ways to Spot Emotionally Healthy Pastors and Staff

William Vanderbloemen is the president and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, an organization that has helped hundreds of churches and Christian organizations find the right person for the right position at the right time. The organization views emotional health as a key factor in assessing candidates. William recently shared how the firm looks for such candidates.

I found his “eight ways” to be incredibly insightful and helpful, so I am sharing his words mostly verbatim in this post.

1. Does the person constantly compare himself or herself to others?

Theodore Roosevelt is attributed to saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Emotionally unhealthy people compare themselves to others, think the grass is always greener, and even resent others’ success. In contrast, emotionally healthy people are content with what God has given them, confident that God has perfectly equipped them for what He has called them to do, and can celebrate the success of others.

2. Does the person have a victim mentality?

Emotionally unhealthy people keep company with people who bring them down and then blame everyone else when their life isn’t how they want it to be. Conversely, emotionally healthy people don’t act as though the world owes them anything. They don’t waste their time having pity parties or feeling sorry for themselves.

3. Do you hear about forgiveness when talking to this person?

Closely related to number 2, emotionally healthy people don’t hold grudges. They know that harbored anger and resentment will imprison them and affect every aspect of their lives. Emotionally healthy people don’t dwell on the past or obsess about a time someone hurt them.

4. Does this person need to be the center of attention?

Ever been around that person who is needy for attention or constant affirmation? It’s just a guess, but that person probably has some deep insecurity with which they need to deal.

Emotionally healthy persons don’t need or demand recognition. In fact, the most successful people I’ve ever been around almost refuse to let the conversation become about them. They ask about others in the room. They give credit to others. They believe in themselves and “do their own thing,” not needing to fit in or craving affirmation.

5. Can this person say “no”?

Over committing yourself may be a sign that you think you’re superman or that you want others to think you are. If someone can’t say no, they are probably too worried about what everyone else thinks of them. And if someone is too fixated on pleasing others, they may not be emotionally healthy. Likewise, over committing yourself might mean that you’re placing a higher priority on work than on your family/home life.

6. Is this person high on the “drama meter”?

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). A firm trust in the goodness of God gives a deep peace that makes one relatively unfazed by change, daily stressors, worries, and tough situations.

Emotionally healthy people don’t have knee-jerk emotional reactions to change or get worked up about things that they can’t control.

7. Does the person have a record of giving back and giving his or her all?

Emotionally unhealthy people hoard their time, talents, and even love. Emotionally healthy people have a spirit of servanthood and give of themselves. Emotionally unhealthy people are afraid to try hard because they might fail. Emotionally healthy people give their all regardless of what they might get in return or what the outcome might be. And if they do fail, are hurt, or are rejected, they don’t give up or begin to withhold their gifts. They continue to give back and give everything they’ve got.

8. Does this person know that joy is a choice?

When Walt Disney said, “Happiness is a state of mind,” he was on to something. Emotionally healthy people know that they have control of their attitude and their responses to situations.

Listen for persons choosing to live out all of the fruit of the spirit, which are clear determiners of emotional and spiritual health: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Here’s a news flash about churches and Christian organizations: They are led by a bunch of people who need a Savior. No team member is perfect, and waiting to find the perfect one means you will always be a team of one. Everyone you bring into your organization will have flaws. But you can mitigate the effect of those flaws if you seek people who are balanced and healthy. When emotionally healthy people are in leadership in the church or other Christian organizations, it creates an entire culture of emotional health and healing. It will make a bigger difference than you can imagine.

I am so grateful to William and his team for these insights and for their ministry. You can download the whitepaper at Vanderbloemen.com, and you can visit their website to learn more about their ministry.

Posted on March 10, 2014

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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