Iorg, Jeff. The Painful Side of Leadership: Moving Forward Even When It Hurts. B&H Publishing: Nashville, Tenn, 2009. 978-0-8054-4870-2
At just under 300 pages, Jeff Irog's, The Painful Side of Leadership: Moving Forward Even When It Hurts is more than a read-once and be done book. It's a comfort for leaders in the thick of it. It's a handbook for leaders heading into it. And it serves as a reference tool to come back to when difficult situations surface.
I wasn't much of a ministry leader the first time a read The Painful Side of Leadership. Sure, I was serving in the church and leading a small group, but I wasn't leading in the lion's den, where a senior pastor often finds himself. I was in seminary and required to read the book. I zipped through it, and that was that. But add a few years and a great deal more ministerial responsibility, and I was ready to pick the book up once again.
Dr. Iorg, the President of Gateway Seminary, was lecturing in one of my doctoral seminars and, in Jeff Iorg fashion, shared a biblical account of a leadership problem followed by a story from his own experience. At one point he mentioned that he wrote about it in his book, The Painful Side of Leadership, but said something like, "But this part was too painful at the time, so I didn't include it." He was so honest and raw with the situation that I knew I needed to go back to the book. If Jeff Irog, a leader I greatly respect, felt the barbs in leadership, he probably could help me navigate the barbs too.
Returning to the book, I realized that it's not just about ministry leadership. The principles apply to any leadership, and the seat of leadership comes with a painful side. It was right of my time as a Staff Seargent in the Army as much as it's true of my time as a lead pastor now. I also realized that having experienced some of the pain in the book, that I could relate to Iorg's struggles, especially from his church planting experiences. I also felt a sense of comfort that my experiences were not isolated to me and that I could learn a great deal from a guy who, it would seem, had navigated a relatively heavy amount of pain in his leadership role. And Iorg has walked with enough other pastors to have many additional examples from across the country.
I don't have anything negative to say about this book. I do think if Iorg were going to release another addition, a companion guide for the team around the leader could be helpful. For those not in areas around the leader, the perspective can be lacking. A companion guide could help them better understand what their leader is going through and ways they can help the leader navigate the waters.
If you're reading this and you're a leader, heading into leadership, or walking alongside your leader, I highly recommend reading Jeff Iorg's The Painful Side of Leadership. Find it on Amazon here, or wherever books are sold.