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What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?
Is anything worth more than your soul?
Jesus (Matthew 16:26)
Jesus’ question haunts me—on both a personal and a professional level. I know firsthand the paradoxical experience of outward success and inward emptiness. I can attest to the cost of pouring myself out in service, only to wake up drained of compassion and devoid of energy.
As leaders, we serve in response to a deep-rooted sense of call. In the very fiber of our being is the desire to make a difference—the yearning to bear healing and transformation—into the life of individual, community and world. In the strength of our passions and gifts, we lead teams and organizations. For most of us, the strength of our call carries us through the first five or ten or even fifteen years, until one day we wake up spent and emptied, wondering, “what is it all about?” It is then that Jesus’ question rises to the surface of consciousness: “What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”
Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee reflect on the cost sacrificing too much for too long: “The constant sacrifices and stress inherent in effective leadership can cause us to lose ourselves and sink into dissonance[…] slowly, over many years, we lose touch with who we are and what we really care about, and one day we find we are not ourselves anymore.” The tender reality is that when leaders, in any profession, find themselves trapped in the sacrifice syndrome, mere rest and relaxation is not sufficient.
The ancients believed attentiveness to a fourfold rhythm helped to nurture and nourish the leader as poet and prophet:
Are you feeling called to reclaim a more gracious rhythm for your life and leadership? Use Poets & Prophets, A Fourfold Rhythm, worksheet, with questions for reflection and guided steps to help you do just that.