All opinions expressed are those of the writer.
After the 2020 declaration of the global coronavirus health crisis, the world has watched as several other financial, social, mental, and scholastic crises formed in its wake. Many of us have been stretched beyond our personal capacities to step up in our roles as leaders, students, and caregivers. As leaders, we often carry the burden of leading organizations, households, and ministries, even during times of crisis. While we are slated with encouraging others, we also have to find the strength to encourage ourselves. So where are we as Christian leaders supposed to find this encouragement in such uncertain times? The answer lies in how we prioritize our focus, our faith, and our health.
1. Stay Focused on Your Big Goal
One of the ways to remain encouraged as we are leading in times of crisis is to stay focused on our overall goal. We must ask, “What is the big goal that I am attempting to accomplish during this time of crisis?” Once we sit down and laser focus on that goal we must stay focused, even when times are hard. This enables us as leaders to have the concentration that is needed for effective leadership, and helps us to provide direction for our teams while they are also facing a crisis.
2. Nourish Your Faith
In times of crisis, faith is key to remaining encouraged as a leader. So often, leaders are expected to have a stone face amid hardship, a cheery disposition amid obstacles, and to always encourage others amid bleak times. It is rare that leaders are expected to place their own encouragement in the list of endless priorities.
Having personal faith is a pillar for remaining encouraged. 1 Samuel 30:6 states that David had to encourage himself in the Lord even when he was distressed. The scripture shares, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
It is through our faith that we can gain personal encouragement and draw from that unending well of encouragement in our times of need so that we can continue to encourage others.
3. Avoid Burnout
Burnout among leaders is at an all-time high right now according to Forbes. They detail that “Nearly 60% of leaders reported they feel used up at the end of the workday, which is a strong indicator of burnout.” This is understandable considering the unprecedented circumstances that leaders are currently facing. With workforces working remote, on-campus classes being conducted partially or completely remote, balancing household duties, and handling deaths within the family, leaders are experiencing stretching in a great way.
Dr. Sandra Dalton-Smith shares, “A life without periods of rest will not endure the daily grind”. As leaders, we must prioritize rest to avoid burnout and fatigue. Rest is often confused as simply sleep, and this is not the case. Dr. Dalton-Smith says, “Sleep is solely a physical activity. Rest, however, penetrates into the spiritual.” While sleep can give us physical and mental rest, a holistic rest revives the spirit.
Oftentimes as leaders we have extensive to-do lists and projects that require our attention, so resting seems to be an inconvenience and a slow-down. However, if burnout occurs, it will not only slow us down, but stop us in our tracks. Dr. Dalton-Smith shared of her personal experience, “The people-pleaser in me would rather say yes and omit the rest. I’ve found through the years that I can’t please anyone including myself when I’m burned out.”
By staying focused on your big goal, nourishing your faith, and avoiding burnout, you can remain encouraged as you are leading during times of crisis. A helpful parallel to consider is the safety protocol that flight attendants share before the plane’s takeoff; they instruct passengers to put their own oxygen mask on first in the event of an emergency before helping others. We are in a state of emergency around the globe due to the pandemic. As leaders, we must put our own health and wellness first so that we can stay encouraged in order to lead others well during this time of crisis.
Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, by Dr. Sandra Dalton-Smith