This is a time when we all have to dig a little deeper, push a little harder, hold on a little longer, and generally just find ways to produce more than we expected and, quite frankly, more than any of us were trained up to do.
We didn’t know what 2020 had in store for us, but here we are, and go on we must. For leaders who stay encouraged and motivated and have a willingness to grow, this season of life might just offer some of the greatest God-opportunities ever to come our way.
As I look at leaders around me who are thriving right now, I’ve found some real practical ways they build a foundation of resiliency and encouragement to propel their effectiveness.
Here are 7 ways you can stay encouraged:
1. LIVE DAILY WITH MARGIN
Most of us have little to no margin in our day-to-day routines.
In fact, many of us are literally burning the candle at both ends, and we fool ourselves that it’s “just a season” or that we are some kind of superhero.
One thing I’ve observed from the top leaders I get to work with, observe, and coach is that they fiercely guard their time.
What they say no to is just as important as what they say yes to.
One thing I now do on a regular basis is to look at my schedules and responsibilities and trim back 10%. I do this by delegating some things, by eliminating some, and by delaying some others.
2. EXPECT IT TO BE HARD
If you started out believing it would be easy, you might have inadvertently set yourself up for discouragement.
Instead, realize that when you begin any journey, it is impossible to see every bump in the road and every detour.
It will get more difficult, but if you made the right choice to get started, it will be worth the extra work.
Remember, embracing what seems uncertain to you is the first step toward letting God turn it into His opportunity
3. DON'T SHY AWAY FROM THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH
What’s natural for humans is not always what’s best for humans.
We have an uncanny ability to live in la-la land sometimes—especially when things get tough.
You know what I mean, right? I hope so. Otherwise, this might sting a bit.
The truth is that I do it. I see others do it all the time. And . . . I bet you do it, too.
Here’s an example: what people are calling “cancel culture” right now is not canceling anything. It would be more accurate to call it “avoidance culture.” But, somehow, it makes people feel better in the moment.
Here’s the kicker, though…facing the music may be very uncomfortable early on, but it’s the only way to grow.
So, take a deep breath and listen to that inner voice helping you understand the core issue, and name it.
4. DON'T LET NON-ESSENTIALS WEAR YOU DOWN UNNECESSARILY
“Major in the majors, and minor in the minors” is the way a marriage counselor helped me understand it.
We often experience the most anxiety from non-essentials from which we could easily have released ourselves.
This is also defined as winning the battle but losing the war.
So, when you find you’re spending emotional energy on something, pause and gain some perspective as to whether it really matters.
5. ESTABLISH SUPPORT RELATIONSHIPS OUTSIDE YOUR CHURCH
Ministry is complex, and one of the complicated aspects of ministry is that church is both family and team. We are all in the family of God, but if you’re holding a formal leadership role, you also have to ensure your team accomplishes the mission.
What we often get swept into is having all of our friendships be in and through the church we lead.
I see most of the high-level leaders I work with strategically developing friendships and connections outside their home church.
These friendships can pay dividends if they are structured clearly for mutual support.
The point of these friend groups is support and perspective for you. It is helpful to have a few people in your network who understand you and care about you deeply, but also understand dynamic leadership and organizational complexity.
These next few items all involve our physical health:
Our mental and emotional health are very much tied to our physical health. So, it makes sense that we cover a few sensible items to optimize the health of our bodies.
I’ve known a few people who could get by on less than 6 hours of sleep a night, but I haven’t known many. I’ve always needed a good 8 hours, myself.
Once I hit 40, I found getting good sleep became more difficult.
Here are a few ways I’ve managed to fix that and start sleeping well again:
- Respect circadian rhythms. This is just a complex way of realizing our bodies were made to function on a 24-hour clock, so going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help . . . it’s simply how you were built.
- Caffeine. I love coffee. And . . . that’s a problem if you’re not sleeping well. I now limit how much caffeine I take in by drinking ½ caffeine coffee (a 50/50 mix of regular beans and decaf beans). I also don’t drink coffee after 12 noon if I can help it, and never after 3pm.
- Limit screen time in the evenings and especially social media time after dinner.
Rigorous physical activity 4-6 times a week is key. I see almost every high-horsepower leader I’m around doing this.
This does NOT mean you must simply hit the gym and do workouts you don’t enjoy.
There are so many ways to stay healthy and active. Don’t like running or it hurts your joints? Then swim, hike, or bike. Can’t afford the gym or hate the commute time to and from? Do exercise videos like P90X or Insanity from home.
If you find activities you enjoy, you’ll keep at it . . . and consistency pays off!
Until next week, Grace & Peace