I recently read the post, 13 Signs of Leadership Fatigue, on Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog.
I began to think of the times in leadership when I’ve been on the verge of a melt down, burn out, and exhaustion. Even though seasons of stress are normal and expected, if we experience them endlessly, something is wrong! So first read the post at the link above, and then let’s relate these 13 signs to women.
- Living by a “get me through the day” philosophy. If you start every day, for many days, just focusing on your ability to breathe until the end of that one day, something is wrong. Are you asking God to grow your life or just keep you alive?
- Losing vision. A leadership vision assumes a commitment far beyond today. Have you stopped dreaming about how the women’s ministry you serve can grow in its reach to women? Do you just focus on the ministry that is taking place today? When we stop looking to the future, we stop growing in all ways.
- Developing poor sleep patterns. Are you sleeping too much or too little? Do you pride yourself on how little sleep you get? I rise early to leave for work before traffic gets too heavy. That means my alarm clock goes off at 4:30 a.m. I am NOT an early riser by nature, and I know that if I do not get ready for bed by 9 p.m. I will not be able to function well the next day. My natural instinct is to stay up late and sleep in later, so this is a nightly challenge.
- Declining spiritual disciplines. As disciples, we are to grow in our walks with Christ continually until we see Him face to face. Are you more in love with Him and hungrier for time in the Word and in prayer now than you were last year? If you are existing on fumes each day, then you may be in a holding pattern spiritually instead of going deeper.
- Repeating lessons and sermons. Is it too hard to develop a new message or to study in preparation for your small group lesson? Are you able to see God at work today so you can share what He is currently teaching you? If not, consider what it will take to be able to prepare well for the next assignment you have on the calendar.
- Faking joy and excitement. Do you experience real peace and joy no matter what? Have you found ways to “rejoice always” (Phil. 4:4) as Scripture tells us? Or is your disposition just below your outward smile one of fuming, frustration, and anger?
- Frustrating family members. Often I have spent the day with others and am at least somewhat kind to them, but then I go home and chew out my family members. If you find this happening on a regular basis, consider the reason and make adjustments.
- Magnifying minors. For me, I’ve often made mountains out of little hills, whether in raising children, keeping my home neat, or even in work and ministry situations. If everything is a mountain, you may be heading toward burn out.
- Failing to return emails and phone calls. Shelving correspondence with ministry partners, women you lead and serve, or family and friends may indicate you are not getting the renewal and rest you need.
- Misdirecting affections. Do you find yourself orchestrating your path ONLY toward those you know will encourage you and lift your spirits? If you rely only on the support of other people who make you feel better about yourself, you may be avoiding those who could truly pour into your life and even hold you accountable.
- Decreasing exercise. When we are physically unfit, we do not have the energy we need to daily serve in ministry as God has called us to.
- Focusing on a “grass is greener” syndrome. I can remember thinking “when I get through this (day, stage, project, etc, etc) things will slow down (get better, I’ll be happier, etc., etc.). How much of today’s assignments and blessings do we waste as we wish it away to get on to something better?
- Avoiding people who speak truth. Others may see in us ways we are floundering spiritually, in our relationships, or in our attitudes. Don’t avoid their wise counsel. Ask for help and consider their insight so you can address what is causing your exhaustion.
We’ve addressed 13 signs to help us discern if we are on the verge (or in the middle of) fatigue. Next Monday, we’ll share 13 tips to apply when we see these symptoms in our lives on an ongoing basis.