I'm becoming more convinced that one of the keys to effective leadership is what I would call emotional endurance. If you're going to make it as a leader, you have to have a high threshold for a wide variety of emotions.
Every once in a while, fellow ministers will ask me about the greatest challenge I face in church-world. Frankly, I think it's managing your emotions. You have to manage the fear and the discouragement and the anxiety. If you can't, you won't make it. But if you allow the challenging situations to build emotional endurance, you'll be prepared for even bigger challenges.
One of the things that has helped me deal with criticism and stress is my perspective. I don't particularly like criticism or stress, but I see it as building emotional endurance. And if I'm going to do bigger and better things for God, then I'm going to need more emotional endurance.
What I'm getting at is this: God wants to work in and through our emotions. He wants to build emotional endurance. And that often involves high levels of stress, or criticism, or fear, or discouragement. But if we open ourselves up to God growing us through these circumstances, then we'll become a stronger person emotionally.
One of my most challenging leadership memories is rooted in a ropes' course element described by various names: Pamper Pole, Eagle's Nest, Leap of Faith. Whatever you call it, the essence of this element is: slip on a safety harness, limb to the top of a 30' telephone pole, leap from the pole to a nearby trapeze bar. Sounds simple, right?! It's a good thing I'm 30 feet in the air because I'm usually shaking so bad prior to leaping that my knocking knees are making quite a racket. But I look back at these kind of situations that were clearly outside my comfort zone and they built emotional endurance. I was able to step into a high pressure situation with a little more confidence the next time around.
May God give us thick skin and a soft heart.