Leadership isn’t any easy calling, and there are many leaders who feel drained, angry, depressed, and burnt out. It seems like leaders are always being asked to make another commitment, or take on another task. Sunday can hardly be called a Sabbath, and for most church leaders is the busiest day of the week. Whether it is a leadership team meeting, choir practice, unexpected counseling needs, visitor greeting obligations, or last minute sermon changes leaders are tugged in many different directions. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, the call is demanding!
So, how do leaders survive? What kind of impact does the call to leadership have on families and relationships? How is the health of leaders impacted? These are the kind of questions many leaders are facing, and don’t always know who to turn to when they need help. The call to perfectionism has consumed our culture, and the busy fast paced lifestyle of the world has entered the gates of the church. You’re not the only one saying, “I’m exhausted, Help!”
Part of the reason why some leaders are experiencing these concerns and questions is because the call to leadership is demanding. There is no way of painting a different picture, because the picture is full of responsibility. However, part of the problem may be our over reliance on self. There could be times when we take too much on as leaders, don’t know how to say “NO,” and we are killing ourselves to please people. Leadership is demanding, but God needs to be the strength behind leadership. Consistent spiritual disciplines can help with this sort of fatigue. We also have to learn that we cannot fix people’s problems. Our call is to disciple other Christians, but our calling is not to fix them. Jesus Christ is the fixer. We are simply the messengers and vessels.
Another reason why leaders are exhausted and need help is because they might be extending themselves beyond their calling. There are many leaders who fill all sorts of different leadership roles. Leaders are easy targets for extra work projects. Part of the responsibility of the church is to NOT put too much on people. Work isn’t what gets us into heaven, although it is a big part of our Christian walk. If you are a pastor or spiritual leader, you have to lead by example. This often means saying “No” to certain projects, in order to say “Yes” to the ones which really need to be done. Simplify. You also have to be willing to admit you cannot do everything by yourself. I really struggled with this for years, and still do. I struggled with this, because I have trust issues. It’s ironic how I ask people each day to trust me, yet I find myself having a hard time trusting them. I have to daily ask the Lord to teach me how to trust. Be willing to give what you receive. I guess the lesson God has been teaching me is that part of helping people grow into leadership is intentionally creating space for them to be leaders by NOT doing certain leadership tasks. People need to see the need, before they hear and receive the call to fill the need. We have to create space for new leaders, if we don’t we will lose this generation.
Another reason why you might be experiencing frustrations and anger is because you are depressed. People who are filled with the Holy Spirit can be depressed and sad. Prayer is a powerful spiritual discipline, but God created humans with the ability to be sad, angry, frustrated, and depressed. There could be a chemical imbalance or something terrible which has happened in your life to either be in situational or chronic depression. If you suspect this, you should continue to pray but also seek professional counseling help. It is good to talk to others and be in communion with other people. God did not create us as lone islands.
Today, if you are feeling exhausted and feeling like giving up, remember God is with you. God is for you. God wants to bring peace to your mind (Philippians 4). You are not alone. Many leaders face sadness and depression. We need to be authentic, transparent, and honest with those around us. We need to be honest about our feelings, and talk with mentors and people we trust. My hope is that you will find someone in your local community, possibly congregation, or at the district to talk with about your exhaustion. We can support one another when we know there is a need. Be real. Don’t hide and put a mask on. A Band-Aid will only last for so long, before the wound needs healing. We need the refreshing healing and power of the Holy Spirit. May God’s refreshing Spirit overshadow you today, and carry the burden of leadership.
Copyright Crystal Schmalz