Many of us are tired. Too often we work too many hours and try to do too much on our own. We think busy means we are important and believe our lack of margin indicates an increase in our worth. Sadly, without realizing it, we can become burned out physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.
Recently, Dave Kraft posted an article about how exhausted leaders are. He writes, “Leaders are falling out of the race and shipwrecking themselves for a number of reasons and one of them is sheer exhaustion, which leads to frustration, anger, confusion, potential burnout and, eventually, throwing in the towel.”
Here are three reasons Dave gives for our exhaustion.
1. The unwillingness to SAY NO.
Leaders are often servants at heart. They feel called to help people and to try to meet their needs, which are endless and inexhaustible. We have limited capacity, time, and gifts and we need to learn to set boundaries, recognize our limits, and create margin in our lives. We cannot, and should not, be at the beck and call of every person with a need. Even Jesus, at times, left people who were in need and disappeared to be by himself (See Luke 5:15,16).
2. The unwillingness to SLOW DOWN.
Too many leaders move at an insane pace and work too many hours. They love to work and, in many cases, get their sense of self-worth through their work. In John Grisham’s novel, The Broker, one of the characters says, “I’ve been there (Washington D.C.). I’ve never seen so many people racing around, going nowhere. I don’t understand the desire for such a hectic life. Everything has to be so fast—work, food, sex.” That’s us in the good old U.S. of A. …going at breakneck speed and not always sure why. One of the results is that we are slowly, but surely, becoming addicted to speed and busyness and, sometimes, we’re not even capable of slowing down.
3. The unwillingness to THINK STRATEGICALLY.
Many leaders are not strategic in how they allocate their time and energy. Most are reactive rather than proactive. We are all composed of a few themes and need to stick with our unique contribution.
Charles Swindoll had this observation about our supreme example, Jesus. “Somehow Jesus mastered the art of maintaining a clear perspective while accomplishing every single one of His objectives (John 17:4). A major reason for His being able to say He finished all the Father had in mind for Him is that He simplified His life.
“He followed His own agenda instead of everyone else’s. He also set predetermined limits. He chose twelve (not twelve hundred) whom He trained to carry on in His absence. He stayed with his set of priorities without apology, which means He must have said no a score of times every month. He balanced work and rest, accomplishment and refreshment, never feeling the need to ask permission for spending time in quietness and solitude. He refused to get sidetracked by tempting opportunities that drained energy and time. He was a servant of His Father, not a slave of the people. Even though misunderstood, maligned, misquoted, and opposed by numerous enemies and even a few friends, He stayed at it. His simplicity kept Him balanced.”
Originally posted by Dave Kraft (davekraft.org)
BEFORE YOU GO…
What other reasons are we tired? Do you think being tired is a common problem among pastors and leaders?
Jesus has the solution for our exhaustion. He said, ”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).
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We should not overlook the possibility of depression as a source of “being tired.” While the causes of depression could include these three reasons from Dave Kraft, they might be physical or emotional in nature. We pastors may want to ignore this possibility, thinking it is not spiritual, but in these cases, a doctor or a counselor needs to be consulted with. This is not a case of “physician heal thyself,” but rather a case of “get help sooner than later.”
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Great post, Randy. Makes me wonder if all this busyness and the resulting “lack of margin” is what makes us feel important, vital and needed, is there a bigger problem lurking here? Could a failure to ask God’s help in facing down my pride and instilling instead the humility of Christ have something to do with exhaustion and even burn out?
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