In my work as a leadership coach to pastors, I have come across many pastors who are overworked, tired, overwhelmed and/or burned out. They have lost the passion, joy, focus and purpose of their call to ministry.
I do not believe God has called any of us to work ourselves to death – in some cases literally so – while neglecting our well-being and that of those we are called to lead. Too many leaders seem to have made a badge of honor out of leading like this.
When leaders allow themselves to be overworked, they rob themselves, others, and God of the best they are able to offer. They resort to leading out of obligation rather than calling. They show up not because they want to, but because they have to. Their leadership skills begin to lose sharpness.
How can a leader restore the joy and passion of leading? Consider these few issues.
Leader, know thyself. This has to be the starting point for any leader who wants to restore the focus, joy, and purpose of a call to lead. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Have an awareness of the triggers that lead you down a road of unhealthy living.
Learn to listen to your body and pay attention to your emotions – and how both of these influence your response. Know when you have reached your limit of giving in a healthy way, so that your giving does not start having a negative effect on you.
Find your identity in Christ. This is vital, because for many leaders their role as a leader is their identity. Ask yourself the question: if I was no longer in a position of leadership, would I still feel the same way about myself? Would you still feel you have value and worth to God and those around you? There is no completely healthy identity outside of Christ.
Delegate, delegate. Too many leaders struggle to let go and entrust tasks and responsibilities to others. For some, this comes from insecurity; they feel the way to maintain power is to remain in control of most things. Others refuse to delegate because they live by the saying, “If you want something done right then do it yourself.” They don’t trust others to get things done properly. In some cases, they haven’t given others a chance to see how they will perform; some leaders are unwilling to acknowledge that “my way” is not the “only” way to accomplish a task.
When you do delegate a task, keep in mind that people must have clear boundaries on what they are being asked to do along with appropriate authority, responsibility and accountability for getting the job done.
You are dispensable. You are expendable in your role as leader. The sooner you get your head around the idea that the work will continue long after you have left the scene, the sooner you will realize that you do not have to overwork yourself. Avoid the if-I-stop-breathing-everyone-else-will-suffocate syndrome that seems to drive the overworked leader.
You are not the reason the work started, and you are not the reason the work will continue. You are only doing your little part of something that is larger than you. So there is no need to overwork yourself. Your task is to find ways in which you can give your best wherever you are called to lead.
If you are feeling overworked, tired and overwhelmed, take a moment to consider the suggestions above and see where you are probably going about your work as a leader with the wrong mindset. It is not too late to correct course.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.