The Soul of Your Leadership

By George Petrusma  |  May 27th

How many balls do you juggle? While the answer to that question may vary from school to school, your list may resemble something like this: vision, strategic planning, human resources, operations, school culture, and relationships. For some of us, that may be just the beginning. The list may be longer.

So how are you doing in the middle of all the juggling? While you may wish to give a quick and rehearsed “doing well” response to that question, a deeper look may reveal that your soul is in need of some attention.

When Dr. Peter Schuurman asked our group the question, “How is your soul?” at our recent Toronto cohort meeting, I was forced out of my quick and rehearsed answer into a deeper space. Could it be the case that my own soul is often the last to be cared for?

Truth be told, I believe that my soul is often a mirror image of how my relationships are functioning. My relationships with my God, my wife, my family, and my John Knox co-workers, students, and parents all need to be cared for in order for me to consider that my soul is in a good place. Not perfect, just cared for.

And that takes time. Do I have time? The answer is yes. My 24 hours a day and 7 days per week are the same yours. The question needs to be changed to “What are my priorities and habits?”

So enough about me, let’s talk about you. Do you set aside time in your day based on priorities and habits? Is your day a reflection of what you want it to be? Are you caring for your soul? Do you feel like you are thoughtful and deliberate? Are you captive to other people’s desires for your day?

Could the main ball-juggling items in your schedule include the following?

  • Tending of your soul through silence and reflection
  • Tending of relationships through connections and interest in others
  • Tending of employees through honest conversations and a growth mindset
  • Tending of school management items through organization and directing
  • Tending of strategy and vision through collaborative and targeted planning
  • Tending of the unexpected through creativity and problem-solving

Could you develop a deliberate and balanced weekly plan that gives attention to the above, knowing that your own soul-tending provides strength for the others?

Your school needs you to be a picture of a Christian leader. Juggling many balls is a requirement. You need to be stable in times of instability—bringing shalom into chaos. Oh yes, and please be the voice of reason and encouragement. Is your soul ready for all of that because you cared for it well?

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

George can be reached at