The Pain Principle

In Dave Gibbons new book, he argues that successful leaders will be third culture leaders–leaders who are liquid and adaptable to the changing cultural landscape that is globalization. Throughout the book he sets out to define what this looks like for the church and her leaders.

One of the attributes of this sort of leader is what he calls the pain principle:

The pain principle grows out of two axioms: (1) For leaders, pain in life has a way of deconstructing us to our most genuine, humble, authentic selves.  It’s part of the leader’s job description. (2) For most people, regardless of culture, it’s easier to connect with a leader’s pain and short-comings and mistakes than her successes and triumphs.

I resonate with this principle.  It’s the essence of Henri Nouwen’s Wounded Healer metaphor, which has been a guiding principle for the way I strive to do ministry.  It doesn’t mean I celebrate brokenness, it just means I’m honest about who I am.  I don’t want to glory in failure, I just want to be open enough about my failures so that everyone around me can see the successes God can bring out of failure.  I don’t want to focus inordinately on my weakness, I just want to point to God’s strength in spite of my weakness.  The pain principle…I like that name.