Don't let the weight of leadership lead to burnout. Here are some tips for how you can recharge using self-awareness and self-care.
"Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord's work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other." - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 NLT
Our hearts and prayers go out to our pastors and church leaders. What a responsibility and weight you carry to lead, serve, be faithful and persevere. Our team at Fishhook is so grateful for your calling and your role!
We know that weight and many other factors can lead to burn out, weariness and wanting to give up. Pastors and church leaders - we see you. And while I'm (we're) not in your exact shoes, I do know that after 17 years of being part of and leading the Fishhook team - there is a joy, a privilege and a weight that comes with shepherding and leading a group of people. In my own life, leading the Fishhook team, being true and diligent in my marriage, raising our teenage daughters and serving with my own church family are my top priorities, and there are many ups and downs.
I go back to 1 Thessalonians ... I look at 1 Thes. 1:6 - So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you.
There is joy and there is suffering as we follow Christ. We can be honest about that - with the Lord, ourselves and others. And we pray, grow, serve and persevere through it.
So what have I learned throughout the years?
Self-awareness and self-care - all centered around Christ - are key.
In my 30s, I went through a personal crisis and needed to dig deeper to learn more about myself, work through some issues from the past, and have more tools to be a healthier version of myself for the future. I started meeting with a Christian counselor. That journey with a counselor along with many other Christian resources, sermons and studies have helped me to understand so much more about who I am as a person. How God has wired me. How God has gifted me. I've learned more about what I do when I am in a healthy mind space and also what I feel or do when I am in stress or unhealth.
In addition, I have a much greater understanding and appreciation for my place in this world. God is God, and I am not. So I'm much more self aware and grateful about who Jesus is - that He is on the throne! He is working all things out. He loves me. So I can lay down my striving and achieving (and controlling). Instead, I focus to worship, follow and trust Him. It's all in His hands. This is ultimate self-awareness for me.
Then - there is self care (or rest)!
Self care is about doing things for yourself so you can be healthy to worship, work, serve and help others. For me (and for many others), self care is hard because we want to achieve things, we want to serve, and we see such value in doing things! (Too much value, really.) We want to lead and carry out the purpose God gives us. Our work is so important. And it is! God gives us our work, our purpose, our ministry. But he also gives us rest. We are finite. We need worship and rest.
So here is how I think about self care. There are days and hours each week where we are to work with diligence. "We are to work willingly at whatever we do, as though we are working for the Lord rather than for people." -Colossians 3:23
But in every day and every week - there is a need for regular self-care because we are limited beings. God is God. We are not. So for me - and for you too - we need rest, we need communion with God, and we need connection with others ("our people"). We need these three things - rest, worship and connection with others - every day, every week and in every season. So I regularly ask myself - how am I resting, worshiping and connecting with others each day ... each week ... and in several special times throughout the year?
Some of my favorite ways to rest, worship and connect with others are:
I aim to start my day with Bible study and prayer.
I strive to have some kind of physical activity. I love walks with my husband or a close friend.
I need a day of rest. It's usually on a Saturday. My laptop is closed. I'm focused on something fun for our family or with friends.
I also need a time of worship. Sometimes that is at my own church. Or, if I'm serving in a significant way at my own church, I'll find another time to worship. Maybe by visiting another church location (at a different time/day of the week). Or, by finding some inspiring worship and teaching online.
Throughout the Year
We plan a weekend getaway, vacation or time off about every quarter. It's great to have fun experiences both to anticipate and to enjoy!
These routines and times to be refreshed in Christ and with others can make such a difference to energize your life and help you sustain the weight of leadership longer-term. Don't skimp on these. Don't say you'll start them soon. I encourage you to take action today.
What is one step you can take today to grow in self-awareness and self-care? What do you need? How might someone you love encourage you to grow in these areas?