How to Deal With Signs of Leadership Fatigue

What can you do to get through this period of fatigue?
What can you do to get through this period of fatigue? (iStock photo )

Previously, I posted an article on "13 Signs of Leadership Fatigue." Several readers asked me to write a follow up post about ways to deal with these signs.

Maybe these suggestions will help you move past leadership fatigue.

1. Living by a "get me through the day" philosophy. You may begin the day with prayer, but surviving the day is your prayer theme.

  • Ask God each day to help you see glimpses of His work like an answered prayer or a restored relationship.
  • Actually watch for those glimpses. Trust that God will show you.

2. Losing vision. Fatigued leaders don't consider vision beyond the end of this workday.

  • While not ignoring the "big picture," strengthen your vision for one area of the church about which you are passionate.
  • Talk to local leaders about needs in your community. Your vision will expand when you see again the world outside your church.

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3. Developing poor sleep patterns. The patterns may vary, but in any case, you're exhausted.

  • Read scriptures that address resting in God (e.g., Ps. 4:8, Prov. 3:24), and let the Word of God bring you comfort.
  • If the patterns persist, consider talking to your physician – just in case some other underlying cause is present.

4. Declining spiritual disciplines. Weariness leaves little room for anything like Bible study and prayer that requires "discipline."

  • Reading one more verse a day or praying one more minute each day is positive. So, do that—read a little more, and pray a little longer each day.
  • Take a brief retreat from the needs of the people around you (Luke 5:15-16). It's not only okay to get away from people to be with God; it's necessary.

5. Repeating lessons and sermons. Finding something in the file is much less draining than the hard work of praying about and developing a sermon or lesson.

  • Invite a guest speaker for a week. That guest might have something to say to you while you rest.
  • Teach through a shorter book of the Bible. Its brevity will help you stay focused, and the intentionality of study will revive you.

6. Faking joy and excitement. Few actions are more exhausting than pretending to have joy you don't have.

  • Bear your soul before God. He won't be surprised by your thoughts.
  • Do something in your ministry that really does excite you. If it's taking a church member to a ball game, do it. If it's sitting in the woods and praying, do that.

7. Frustrating family members. Leaders who fight to get through the day often dump on their family when they get home.

  • Don't talk about work for the first two hours at home. Spend that time focusing on your family.
  • Give your spouse permission to say, "Honey, you're dumping too much on me" – and then stop.

8. Magnifying minors. What seemed insignificant last month is unexpectedly huge when we're tired.

  • It might sound silly, but count to ten (or 100, if needed) or take a walk before determining what's really important.
  • Ask yourself, "Will this issue really matter a year from now?" If not, file it under "Not as important as I thought."

9. Failing to return emails and phone calls. Weary leaders tend to delay responding to others, if they choose to respond at all.

  • Calendar a daily time to return communications (preferably no more than one hour).
  • Handle the most stressful stuff first. Get it out of the way, using your time wisely because other emails and phone calls wait.

10. Misdirecting affections. When nothing they do brings joy, fatigued leaders sometimes turn to others for affirmation.

  • Go back to No. 7 above, and reinvest your time in your family.
  • Talk to yourself throughout the day: "I'm really stupid if I do this ... " and RUN from temptation.

11. Decreasing exercise. Professional and emotional fatigue quickly lead to physical tiredness. Exercise becomes that much more difficult.

  • Take 10-minute walks throughout the day. Get out of your office.
  • Find a workout partner to hold you accountable to increasing your exercise.

12. Focusing on a "grass is greener" syndrome. Every other role, it seems, is suddenly better than our current one.

  • Force yourself to make a list of God's blessings in your current ministry.
  • If you can't create that list, ask someone in the church to help you. I suspect others see God's hand where you may not. Give thanks in all things.

13. Avoiding people who speak truth. When we know we're tired of leading, it's just easier to avoid people who know us well enough to recognize the problem.

  • Don't avoid those persons; invite them to lunch. Sharing your burden will be good for you.
  • Choose to listen more than complain.

What other suggestions do you have?

Chuck Lawless serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

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