LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS
REV. JAY HANSON
“I’m exhausted. I can’t do another thing.”
“I’m overwhelmed. I’ve got too much to do.”
“I’m out of energy. I’ve got to focus on me for a while.”
“The ministry never seems to end and I just don’t have enough to give.”
Lately I’ve been hearing sentiments like these from many tired church leaders. There is an overwhelming amount of overwork, mental and physical exhaustion, rushed engagements, and thirsty souls. Leaders are looking for the latest productivity tricks and tips to steal a few minutes here and there in the attempt to make-up time and make room for more. But what if what we have is not a time problem but a spiritual problem?
I’m a big fan of Peter Scazzero’s, “Emotionally Healthy” book series (Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Leadership, and Discipleship). In “Emotionally Healthy Discipleship,” he explains how church leaders often reach burn-out and develop a feeling of overwork when they outwork their level of being with God. They give far past what they have received from spending time with God.
What happens when you give past what God has given you to share with others?
- You start giving away pieces of yourself and you become resentful of others.
- You give your wisdom and opinions instead of God’s.
- You feel pressure to do more and better which leaves you exhausted and defeated.
- You are consistently rushed and unable to give yourself fully to anything, feeling like you don’t really belong and aren’t fully accepted.
- Your relationships are transactional, and while you’re with one person you’re thinking about your next meeting or appointment.
- You fire off quick opinions and lose sight of the grace and mercy you have received.
If you’re having a hard time doing everything you’re doing with a spirit of generosity and grace, you might be tempted to clear the calendar and narrow your options; cut back on what you’re doing. That’s a great first step, but continued overwhelm and burden is an indication you have a being problem, not a calendar problem. No amount of doing or not doing will change the malnourished state of your soul. Reprioritizing and managing will not allow you to give more if you have nothing left to give. What is needed is more being with God. Your output must not exceed your input.
You might start by going to the schedule and writing in more time with God, expanding your quiet time, increasing the amount of time you spend in prayer. All of that will help, but that is only addressing the calendar problem. What is most needed is a constant connection with the Father, experiencing the personal “withness” of God. In John 15:5 Jesus describes this as “abiding” or “remaining” in Him. It’s living with the reality that God is with you, operating just under the surface of every interaction and conversation, inside every thought and every breath.
When you abide in Him and focus on being with Him, you are filled to overflowing with His power. What you offer others is not your wisdom and strength, but His. Doing for God that flows out of being with God is infused with a kindness, gentleness of spirit, and humility that draws others into His presence. Someone who remains in God has a greater capacity for compassion and empathy and develops deep relationships that are overflowing with God’s love.
If you are looking for greater output as you do for God, get more input by being with God.
Jay Hanson, Director of Congregational Development and Lead Pastor of The Chapel Ministries, and Anne Bosarge, Associate Director of Congregational Development and Campus Pastor of The Chapel Online, serve at The Chapel Ministries. They love sharing about the ways God is moving in their church. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.