5 Ways Stressed-Out Church Leaders Can Thrive Again
By: Tracey Smith February 9, 2017
Church leaders, are you stressed out? Do you always seem to be telling others how busy you are? It might be time to schedule a break soon, reassess yourself, and rediscover the joy of leading.
Ghandi once said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” I know, I know. You and I have said it a million times: "I have to be busy," or "If I don't do it, who will?" If you are finding yourself feeling too busy, exhausted, or stressed a lot of the time, there are a few adjustments that you might be able to make that could help you slow down just a little and enjoy the leadership that God has given to you.
1. Lead Yourself.
As a leader, we are always leading other people, but sometimes we forget to lead ourselves. What would you tell one of your church staff members who approached you and confided that they were on the edge of burnout? Take your own advice! Take time to rejuvenate youself. This may mean you need to take a vacation, do something fun with your family, or simply make a minor adjustment to your daily calendar. Sometimes that minor calendar adjustment is as straight-forward as getting more sleep or adding 20 minutes to your daily time with God. Read this article by John Maxwell, one of the greatest thinkers when it comes to leadership: To Lead Others, First Lead Yourself.
2. Share the lead.
The next time you are in a staff meeting, look around. Do you notice any leaders who are not being utilized to their fullest potential? Make it a habit to share your leadership responsibilities and surround yourself with a team of leaders. Find out what they do best, and then release them to lead. Don’t micromanage them, and don’t just hand them another to-do list. Instead, learn how to trust your team, and allow them to lead.
While they are leading, you can become an expert on how to invest your life on being a good leader of leaders. Make yourself available to them, and be clear about your expectations. Low-level leaders never share the lead, and it not only drains the leader, but it also drains the success of the church. I love how Marshall Goldsmith clarifies what shared leadership is in his article, Sharing Leadership to Maximize Talent:
“Shared leadership involves maximizing all of the human resources in an organization by empowering individuals and giving them an opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise. With more complex markets increasing the demands on leadership, the job in many cases is simply too large for one individual. Sharing leadership isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible, and in many cases, highly successful.”
3. Delegate some responsibilities.
You cannot do everything yourself. Look at your current responsibilities and ask yourself, “What am I currently doing that someone else could probably do better?” Once you have answered that question, then find the best people to do it. You will probably be surprised by who is just waiting on you to release it to them, and you will find your time can be better utilized elsewhere. Think you are already a good delegator? Take a few moments to go through this assessment from Team Management Training on How Well Do You Delegate?
4. Be grateful.
A few years back, I found myself becoming negative and always complaining. My role as a leader began to flounder, and I noticed that I wasn’t being effective in my leadership. I had to make some changes, because you can’t live a positive life with a negative mind. Make sure you are constantly in God’s Word, not just learning to teach others but also personally enjoying your relationship with Him.
Beware of negativity slipping into your life. It can come through many avenues and eventually destroy you and what God is trying to accomplish through you. Take time to be grateful for the leadership role that God has given to you and for the people God has allowed you to serve. If you have found yourself in a negative and ungrateful spiral, stop the bus and make a decision today to apply these words: "In everything, give thanks!”
5. Enjoy the ride.
When asked “How are you doing today,” a friend of mine would always reply, “I’m living the dream!” I always liked that about him. How are you doing today? Could you reply, “I’m living the dream," or would it be better stated, “I’m living the nightmare!” If you like the path you're on, then learn how to enjoy the ride. There will always be ups and downs in ministry, and ministry will always take a toll. But as you know, it's always worth it.
If you don’t like the road you are walking on today; then take the time to pave a new one. Make sure you are in a leadership role that uses the full potential of your giftedness and calling. If you find yourself dreading to go to work, take the time to find out why. Perhaps it's time to begin praying about a new ministry position or to focus on how you can rearrange your current role to bring you fulfillment in what God has called you to do.
Lastly, learn to surround yourself with people you enjoy being around - people who pour into your life also instead of always taking from you. I have found it much more enjoyable and much easier to enjoy the ministry when I serve with leaders who also love what they do and have learned to enjoy the ride!
What are some adjustments that you are going to need to make in this upcoming ministry season?