Given the stress many church leaders are under during this COVID-19 crisis, I’m updating and reposting this word from 2015 to encourage each of us to be aware of leadership fatigue.
- Living by a “get me through the day” philosophy – You may begin the day with prayer, but just surviving the day is your prayer theme.
- Losing vision – A leadership vision assumes a commitment far beyond today. Fatigued leaders, though, don’t consider beyond the end of this workday.
- Developing poor sleep patterns – The patterns may vary, but they still reflect fatigue: too much sleep as you seek to avoid perceived reality, or too little sleep when you can’t get perceived reality out of your mind.
- Declining spiritual disciplines – This change may be one of the first signs of trouble for leaders who have previously been faithful in spiritual disciplines. Weariness leaves little room for anything that requires “discipline.”
- Continually repeating lessons and sermons – Finding something in the file is much less draining than the hard work of developing a sermon or lesson. Leadership fatigue convinces you that “nobody will remember the previous time anyway.”
- Faking joy and excitement – Few actions are more exhausting than pretending to have joy you don’t have. Every sentence is hard, and every nod of the head feels like a ton of weight on your shoulders.
- Frustrating family members – Leaders who fight to get through the day often let their guard down when they get home – and all the stress of playing the game for eight hours gets dumped on their family.
- Magnifying minors – What used to seem insignificant is unexpectedly huge because we’re tired.
- Failing to return emails and phone calls – Communicating with people takes time, energy, and focus. Weary leaders tend to delay responding to others, if they choose to respond at all.
- Misdirecting affections – Fatigued leaders sometimes turn to others for affirmation. That’s when that church member’s look seems sexier, that hug feels like a caress, and that increasingly intimate relationship seems justified.
- Decreasing exercise – Professional and emotional fatigue quickly leads to physical tiredness. Exercise becomes that much more difficult.
- Focusing on a “grass is greener” syndrome – It’s amazing how leadership fatigue affects the lenses through which we see other options. Every other role, it seems, is suddenly better than our current one.
- Avoiding people who speak truth – When we know we’re tired of leading, it’s just easier to avoid people who know us well enough to recognize the problem.
- Lessening excitement over new possibilities – In this current crisis, we’ve been excited about increased viewers, etc. – but that excitement wanes under the increased workload.
- Becoming numb – It might begin with painful tears. It might continue through unhealthy means to deal with the pain. The end, though, is numbness – and little left to offer.
If you’re dealing with leadership fatigue, tell us how we might pray for you. I want our readers to help each other.