Preaching Articles

Great ministry leaders keep their emotions in check. Unfortunately, when we don’t keep them in check, our emotional brain can hijack clear thinking and good leadership. Yet, when we understand how our brain and emotions work, such insight can help us manage them in God honoring ways. Below I give a quick summary about the part of our brain that affects emotions.

Many parts of the brain influence our emotions, but the part I call the Panic Alarm (the limbic system, especially the amygdala) contributes the most. The word limbic means ‘edge’ and it got its name because it lies on the edge between the outer part of the brain and other important internal structures. Its primary structures include the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the hypothalamus. The Panic Alarm strongly influences our emotional system, sometimes called the X-system.

The amygdalae (I use the singular form amygdala) are two almond shaped structures that play a critical role in our emotions for several reasons. It’s constantly on the lookout for problems and receives sensory input from many other parts of the brain. It stores and catalogs emotional memories. And both the hippocampus and the amygdala are involved in memory, the former primarily for facts and the latter for emotions.

For example, your hippocampus helps you remember the names of your elder or deacon board members. The amygdala tells you which ones you like. Because the amygdala is so highly connected to other parts of the brain, when it gets overly activated (the Panic Alarm goes off) it can diminish clear thinking and diminish thoughtful leadership.

An external real or perceived threat (an angry board member), a memory (when we were called to appear before an emergency board meeting), imagining ourselves in a threatening situation, or ever anticipating a threat can incite our Panic Alarm. The flight-flight-freeze-appease response originates from here. It’s also vital in helping us form healthy emotional attachments, especially at an early age.

Another component of the limbic system, the hypothalamus, acts as a controller to the master hormone gland, the pituitary gland. When we’re under stress it releases the stress hormone cortisol into our blood stream and neurotransmitters into our brain. Our body reacts very quickly to the neurotransmitter release but slower to the hormonal release. And chronic stress can damage our body and even kill brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus. However, since the hippocampus is one of the few structures that can grow neurons, called neurogenesis, when stress decreases and cortisol levels out, the brain can regrow neurons here.

Another significant part of the brain, the insula, also influences emotions, and informs the amygdala. It maps our body’s internal feelings by receiving continuous input from over 100 million neurons (Armour, 2004) that line our hollow organs like our heart and intestines. It takes this information and represents how we feel in relation to our outside environment. Intuition is affected by this so called ‘second brain’ (Hadhazy, 2010). It can give us a ‘gut’ feel, butterflies in our stomach, or a ‘heartfelt sense’ we sometimes feel about something or someone. It’s also finely tuned to feel disgust and to sense unfairness.

I believe God used my insula to help me make a difficult decision years ago. I had been leading a poorly performing staff member that I had hoped I could reform to fit our culture. I kept telling myself that I could change him. But nothing seemed to work. I thought I needed to release him but I just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger. However, one morning I woke up in the middle of the night and knew in my gut I had to release him. I believe the Holy Spirit used my insula to help me make that decision.

Although the Bible never uses the word brain, it often uses the word for bowels to refer to the deep interior of our heart, soul, and mind. Although the Biblical writers didn’t explicitly understand the inner workings of the brain, God gave them keen insight into how our bodies and brains actually worked in real life.

Has your emotional brain every hijacked your leadership? What has helped you keep your emotions in check?

 

As a pastor for over 43 years, Charles served as a lead pastor, associate pastor, and church planter in churches from 50 to over 1,000. He now coaches and equips pastors and teams to effectively navigate the unique challenges ministry brings. By blending biblical principles with cutting-edge brain-based practices he helps them enhance their leadership abilities, elevate their preaching/ teaching skills, and prioritize self-care. He has written 7 books, earned 5 degrees (including two doctorates) has been married for 43 years, and has 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren. For more information and to follow his blogs, visit www.charlesstone.com
Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

Pamela Albert

commented on Dec 6, 2023

I want to share to the whole world on how Dr Oduku Paul helped my Mother cure HPV Please help me thank Dr Oduku Paul for his good work I really believe Genital Warts is known not to have a cure, my mother contacted this disease in 2017, I have done all my best to get my mom cured from this disease but all to no avail until a friend of mine told me about doctor Oduku Paul herbal home on the internet who helps people cure any kind of diseases including HIV, ##### ENLARGEMENT/PREMATURE EJACULATION, Cancer, Herpes etc., at first I doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try, when I contacted this herbal doctor he helped me with his herbal medicine and my mom was cure God we Bless my mom was healed with (21days) and she went for a medical checkup and my doctor confirm it that my mother is now HPV negative. Contact this grate herbal doctor for any kind of disease or ailment via this email odukuherbalremedies@gmail.com https://naturalherbalremedyblog.wordpress.com +2348104289723.

Linda Anthony

commented on Dec 6, 2023

GET RICH WITH BLANK ATM CARD, Whatsapp: +18033921735 I want to testify about Dark Web blank atm cards which can withdraw money from any atm machines around the world. I was very poor before and have no job. I saw so many testimony about how Dark Web Online Hackers send them the atm blank card and use it to collect money in any atm machine and become rich {DARKWEBONLINEHACKERS@GMAIL.COM} I email them also and they sent me the blank atm card. I have use it to get 500,000 dollars. withdraw the maximum of 5,000 USD daily. Dark Web is giving out the card just to help the poor. Hack and take money directly from any atm machine vault with the use of atm programmed card which runs in automatic mode. You can also contact them for the service below * Western Union/MoneyGram Transfer * Bank Transfer * PayPal / Skrill Transfer * Crypto Mining * CashApp Transfer * Bitcoin Loans * Recover Stolen/Missing Crypto/Funds/Assets Email: darkwebonlinehackers@gmail.com Email: info@darkwebonlinehackers.com Telegram or WhatsApp: +18033921735 Website: https://darkwebonlinehackers.com

Linda Anthony

commented on Dec 6, 2023

GET RICH WITH BLANK ATM CARD, Whatsapp: +18033921735 I want to testify about Dark Web blank atm cards which can withdraw money from any atm machines around the world. I was very poor before and have no job. I saw so many testimony about how Dark Web Online Hackers send them the atm blank card and use it to collect money in any atm machine and become rich {DARKWEBONLINEHACKERS@GMAIL.COM} I email them also and they sent me the blank atm card. I have use it to get 500,000 dollars. withdraw the maximum of 5,000 USD daily. Dark Web is giving out the card just to help the poor. Hack and take money directly from any atm machine vault with the use of atm programmed card which runs in automatic mode. You can also contact them for the service below * Western Union/MoneyGram Transfer * Bank Transfer * PayPal / Skrill Transfer * Crypto Mining * CashApp Transfer * Bitcoin Loans * Recover Stolen/Missing Crypto/Funds/Assets Email: darkwebonlinehackers@gmail.com Email: info@darkwebonlinehackers.com Telegram or WhatsApp: +18033921735 Website: https://darkwebonlinehackers.com

Join the discussion