There is a deep sense of emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue among our leaders as we realize there's not really an end in sight for the current chaos in the world. Every time we turn around there are new mandates, social norms, and contentious subjects. We make a change to how we’re doing things, and the next month we’re forced to change again. It’s difficult to know what to do in times such as these.
This session is part three of the practical solution guide to navigating through the chaos in your life. Read until the end, and you’ll know exactly what to do when you don’t know what to do.
The human mind craves purpose because everyone of us was created by God with purpose. From the beginning, we’ve been hard-wired with the deep desire to do something meaningful. Just because you’re not a pastor doesn’t mean you don’t have a God-given purpose for your life. If you detach or run from that purpose, you will quickly drain yourself.
When you know what you’re working toward and you begin to see some of the results of your hard work, you will feel energized and motivated. We can endure even the toughest of circumstances when we have purpose. If you don't have that vision to work toward or circumstances in life cause you to lose sight of that vision, you can begin to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, constantly running but not going anywhere or accomplishing anything. Lack of purpose and vision can suck the life out of even the strongest people.
Purpose in life and work and even ministry starts with a plan. It starts with your clear calling and knowing exactly where God wants you and where you're headed in your life. I know this is a simple concept, but it’s very powerful. Never give up on the mission that the Lord has set before you. Keep moving forward. Keep trying to make progress. If you are at a place in your life where you can’t do what you would like to do because of circumstances beyond your control, or you’re struggling to even know what to do, I want to give you three tips things that can help you.
Find the small wins.
If you get to the place where it feels like you’re not winning on big things, or you don’t know how to win with the big things, it’s important that you look for opportunities to win with small things.
I’m an ambitious person. Productivity is actually my drug of choice, so I have a personal 3-to-5-year vision with a clear path of what I need to do each month to move forward. A few months back I had a severe case of Covid for several weeks. For the first five or six weeks after my illness, I was extremely fatigued. Some people have described what I felt as the “Covid fog”; and I’m here to tell you, it’s real. Because of the exhaustion I felt, I struggled to get things done, my routines were off, and I wasn’t meeting my goals. I quickly realized that taking a few months off of working toward my weekly and monthly goals meant that I probably wouldn’t accomplish my year-end goals. However, instead of focusing on those big things that I couldn’t accomplish, I made a minor shift in my plan and started focusing on the little things. Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked myself, “What small thing can I accomplish today?” Then, I do that thing. I ask myself that question every day, and I get those small things done.
Over the past few months, I haven’t gotten the big things I wanted done, but I didn’t totally waste my time because I stuck to the plan. I followed the last direction I received from the Lord as closely as I could, and I accomplished quite a few smaller things. In the end, doing this will will help me move forward with my vision. It has also been really good for me to see some sort of progress even if it is small. Focus on the small things; the small things win.
2. Keep a healthy rhythm of life.
Don’t just try to work yourself harder. One of the biggest signs that a leader is working too hard is that the leader looks for time off. They have the mentality, “If I can just make it to my next day off or if I can just make it to my vacation next month or if I can just make it to Christmas break, I’ll be okay.” I hate to break the news to you, but that kind of thinking is false hope. When you’re not living a sustainable pace of life, all the time off in the world is not going to relieve the exhaustion and burn out.
It’s so important to live every day and every week at a sustainable pace. If you’re struggling in this area or simply want to improve this area of your life, I’ve got a free course on my website called “Rhythm of Life” at ChurchLeaderMadeSimple.com. I won’t have it there for much longer so take advantage of the course while it’s available. If you need some help in this area, I promise this course will help you.
On the subject of sustainable pace, think about this question, “How’s your time with God going?” Prayer is still your lifeline. Even if you’re feeling too physically or emotionally exhausted to pray, you have to find it within yourself to break through that fatigue and pray anyway. Prayer is what is going to ultimately sustain you.
There are many things you can and probably should give up, but your devotion with the Lord is not one of them. Think about it this way. If you quit talking to your spouse or close friends, there’s no doubt that your relationships with those people will eventually erode and fail. It’s the same way with our relationship with the Lord. Psalms 23:1-3 states, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” Relationship with the Lord is one of the greatest tools we have to heal and sustain us, allowing us to keep a healthy rhythm of life.
3. Gain a reasonable perspective.
Can I give you some truth about people in the church right now? There are very few people who are not impacted by what’s going on in the world. For some reason, we often think that everyone else is winning big and enjoying life, and we're the only ones who are struggling. Well, guess what? That’s not true. As a pastor and an executive coach, I meet with many people, including a good number of pastors, and most of the people that I've talked to recently are struggling in some way. That may not help you much; but for me, it's comforting to know that someone else is struggling with the same things I struggle with and can empathize with my pain. Don't let the social media glamor fool you. Most people are going through the same things you’re going through, and you’re probably not doing nearly as bad as you think you are.
If you want to move forward with a healthy mind, it’s critical that you gain a reasonable perspective. It’s amazing the perspective that someone else can give us when we take advantage of their insight. That’s why it’s so important that we embrace an authentic community with other people around us.
Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” In other words, we’ve got to be there for each other, support each other, pick one another up when we’re down, and provide relational nutrients to one another so we can keep the correct perspective. I can’t emphasize just how important this is. It’s amazing how much better lives will become and how much clearer our next steps will be when we allow people in our life to love and accept us. Ask yourself this question, “Who do I have in my life with whom I can trust enough to be transparent and vulnerable?”
When you don’t know what to do, do these things: Focus on the small wins, maintain a healthy rhythm of life, and gain a reasonable perspective.If you will do these three things and put into practice the content from the previous two sessions, you will be well on your way to making it through these chaotic times.
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.