Helping the Avoidant Leader

This month’s newsletters will be about How We Love as Leaders.  In my office, I see many Christian leaders, lay and professional who cover the range of attachment styles.  This series is dedicated to helping understand what each attachment style looks like and how they can improve as leaders within theKingdom of Christ.

I just hung up the phone with a woman who said she and her husband’s marriage was suffering immensely now that the nest was empty.  She went on to say that the kids had provided thirty years of distraction and now they were alone… she felt very lonely.   Her husband, who sounded emotionally avoidant, seemed quite happy maintaining status quo.

It’s really no different if he were an avoidant leader, it would be the same… the words of the hymn seem to apply… “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.”

One day, a pastor’s wife named Geri walked up to her husband Peter and said, “I’m leaving the church.”  I’m sure her shocked husband was thinking, “You can t do that, you’re the pastor’s wife.”  Eventually Pete asked why and she explained that she was dying in the emotionally starved church that they were shepherding. Pete was no theological slouch, with a Masters of Divinity and a Doctoral of Ministry in Family Ministries.  He knew the answers and was faithfully laboring in the small corner of the Kingdom known as Queens, New York.

His wife, was longing for an emotional and relational connection with her husband, just like the one she saw in the Bible… with God the Father and Jesus God incarnate, being equally balanced with cognition AND emotion.   Our Divine Model is easily capable of defining His emotions (good and bad) and readily eager to bring them into relationship with those whom He loves.

Avoidant leaders represent only one half of the fullness of God in their leadership modeling and teaching… leaving congregations and families stunted in their spiritual, emotional and relational development. Geri felt this disparity deeply and in a move that reflected both protest and self preservation, walked out the front door of the church leaving her husband in a vulnerable position, weak, exposed and threatened.

Somehow, an intervention (perhaps less dramatic) needs to get the attention of the avoider leader.  At first they will have no idea what you are talking about, and it may make them angry.  Yet those who are close, need to ask the avoidant leader to engage in emotional growth for theirs, family’s and congregation’s best interest.  Emotional development is God’s will for our lives. No way around it.  Cognitive appeals work best and you can read our bookHow We Love to get some specific ideas as to how to help the avoider.

You can also hear Peter and Geri’s story of his choice to engage in emotional and relational development which took place over the next few years after her intervention.  They are much closer and emotionally bonded and have found a new cruising altitude for their marriage. You can read about it in his books, The Emotionally Healthy Church and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazerro (

Next week we will begin to discuss how to help the Pleaser Leader.

Thanks for listening,



Next week:  Helping the Pleaser Leader.