What’s Your Shadow?


Author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change, Parker J. Palmer, gives 5 examples of the shadow sides common to ministry leaders. His premise is that, “if we are to create less shadow and more light, we need to ride certain monsters all the way down.” The shadows follow:

  1. A deep insecurity about your identity and self-worth. What drives you? That you are a child of God…or some title given to you by an organization or team?
  2. The perception that the world is hostile, where there must be winners and losers. Are you about winning or about collaboration, listening, and unifying? (See Blue Ocean Strategy)
  3. Possessing “functional atheism” thinking that everything depends on you. Are you a workaholic, with your relationships simply being an end-to-a-means? Learn to rest and wait patiently when needed.
  4. The fear of chaos. Are you an “order-freak?” Careful of squelching dissent that leads to creativity and change!
  5. Denying death. Do you fear public failure and negative feedback? Continue on in this denial and areas of your life and ministry will live on when instead they should be terminated.  Embrace your failures. Whether you are “killing” off programs or people…know that out of death can come new life. In the words of Tyler Durden from Fight Club, “Only after disaster can we be resurrected.”

What’s your shadow side? How will you reverse the darkness to light?


~ by Dave Smith on January 25, 2008.

4 Responses to “What’s Your Shadow?”

  1. “Every evening I died and every evening I was born again. Resurrected.”

  2. Expanding on your question “…your relationships simply being an end-to-a-means?”

    I see this…especially in the working world where “business relationships” are just that – “business”. There is very little genuineness.

    I see this is in our own brand syncretism…christianity and business…where relationships become important for the wrong reasons.

  3. Good call on the quote. I may have been remembering the quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s book (which is a graet compliment to the movie).

    Agreed with the syncretism. I think in the past relationships were simply means to a “salvation.” Now the same tone is there…but the “end” has morphed some.

    For me, I am consistently guild of “functional atheism,” thinking I have to do it all. Part of that is the church culture we exist within that assumes we have to provide it all and do it all…but most of it is my personal “bent” and need discipline.

  4. 1 and 5 & 1 much more than 5. I wish this wasn’t so. I know the root of that is pride. pride. pride. pride. God help me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: