Christian Leaders Don't Cry

Oct 20, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

It’s easy to talk about leadership theoretically.  We can describe great men and women who lead the charge against uncommon forces.

But, sometimes we sit in our office, or store, and wonder where do they find the energy? How do we lead strong when we are filled with despair or feel frustrated beyond repair.

I have real problems and I know I need to pull myself up by the boot straps, put on a happy face, and pray that my team feels inspired when I don’t.  After all, Christian leaders don’t cry!

There Is A Common Link

I think the common link that a Christian in business feels is weariness.  I am tired, but I don’t have time to be.  I am frustrated but I need to be strong for my team.  I am scared and the only thing I know to do is work harder.

I personally have the disease of pushing my feelings aside because they aren’t going to solve my problem.  I stuff.  I rationalize.  And I hold the poison inside of me.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Two things are working in me.  One is the role of a leader.  We must be strong, all knowing, and all loving.  The second is the role of a Christian.  I am fine.  I gave it to God.

Both roles are too hard by themselves.  Together they are crushing.

Fear and anger and frustration stuffed over time can be toxic.  I visualize a vial of black, thick, sticky stuff being extracted to run tests on my healthiness.

What is the antidote?  Can I run faster?  Can I fix it with obedience?  Can I persuade, convince, or cajole others into doing it my way?  Is that what God would want?

It seems impossible to discern.

As a leader I feel we do have a responsibility to be strong.  To guide our flock.

Health (Emotional, Spiritual, Physical) is an Important Ingredient for Good Leadership

But I know I can only do this if I am in a healthy place, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  The worse the situation, with good health, the better my ability to adapt.

I am at a counseling conference and actually learning much for business owners.  Dr. Henry Cloud taught that….

  • just knowing the truth
  • and having it repeated over and over

….cannot create change or healing.  Why?  Nothing is different.  Just because we know something, doesn’t give us the ability to change it.

We Need Grace to Become (or Be) Healthy

We need the ingredient of grace to be able to make changes.  Grace, in this sense, is something new from the outside that equips us or nurtures us to healing.  We don’t have it within ourselves.  We are completely dependent on God to provide it through some means.

One of the barriers I find for myself and for many clients is described by this example from Dr. Cloud.

He gives the analogy of a duck.  You have heard the cliche “like water off a ducks back”.  Ducks don’t absorb the water.  We cannot absorb the grace, or the tools God provides, if we don’t have an opening.

Feel It, Express It to Heal It

Today some new friends helped me see that the key to creating the opening for grace and therefore, change and healing, is to allow yourself to feel the emotions.  I know, actually let them out! (That’s what I said.)  We need to…

….express the anger

….cry tears of grief

….feel the despair

This is not a clinical description of what happens if you do.  It’s just my personal experience.

I feel a cathartic release.

I feel God hears my cry.

I feel validated by others.

I feel that a burden has been lifted.

With that a tear is made.  An opening…to receive grace.  And with grace, in whatever form God provides, I (we) can begin to heal.

Are we healed for life?  Probably not.  We can be if we allow the grace to seep in consistently over time.

But a weight has been lifted.  Grace is received.  And strength is renewed to better lead.  To see solutions.  To be a rock for others.

Without stuffing the toxic ingredients of our anger, grief, or despair.

It Is Part of Our Christian Advantage

Receiving the grace of God is our advantage as Christians.  We really aren’t alone.  We have someone who cares about our tears.

He wants to heal us so we can achieve the vision that He gave to us in the first place.

The dream to open this business.

The business that will be a city on the hill.

For other Christians in business to see and believe.

A business built on Christ and our Christian values will achieve success.

Not in the traditional sense, necessarily…

…but it will change lives,

…it will touch customers,

…it will build community,

it will follow you, the shepherd God chose to steward over this particular place!

Reader Interactions


  1. Anonymous says

    I chose to leave this anonymously because I was sitting here crying when this post came in my inbox. I’m a subscriber via email. THank you for this post.

    • S_Miley says

      I am always amazed out how God brings us what we need at the right moment. To Him, not one of us is anonymous. God Bless.

  2. Marcus Goodyear says

    For me, this is why good cathartic stories are so important. They help me be open to where I’m hurting. They catch me off guard and leave me wondering why did that scene upset me so much? What about myself did I see in those characters? What did those characters do to overcome that problem? Will that work for me?

    And now I’m going to start telling everyone to help me out when life rolls off me like “grace off a duck’s back…”

    • S_Miley says

      I too learn so much from other’s stories. We are in process groups at this workshop and I have learned as much from the stories as from the lectures. It is also what I love about reading different people’s blogs. They put their story into it! Thanks for commenting.

  3. catherine says

    Thanks soooo much for being sincere… I was beginning to think something was wrong with voicing weariness and exhaustion. Thanks for the point about healthy living and specifically ALLOWING GRACE to have its way in my life…
    Am grateful for sincere Christians in the business body of the chruch like you.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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