If you are in leadership long enough, there will be days when you simply feel you are all alone and no one understands. You may feel overwhelmed. Unappreciated. Misunderstood. And alone in all of it.
Christian leader, don’t think of yourself as “less spiritual” on those days. Think of yourself as human. Remind yourself that Elijah felt that way at times. So did the Apostle Paul. Jesus sweated drops of blood in his humanity.
Most likely those are emotional responses to your circumstances and not based on truth, but they are real. But, what do you do in those days?
Here are 7 suggestions:
Talk to God – Be honest with your loneliness. That’s what Elijah did. Better yet, listen to God. Hear His perspective. It trumps yours.
Rest – These days tend to come more often when we are tired. On a recent day like this I stopped and took a short nap. I was energized when I returned. On more severe times, you may need to get away for a longer period. Schedule a night at home and go to bed early. I also find that sometimes it isn’t rest, but exercise I need. When I am not rested or as healthy as I could be it makes me feel more tired easily and more quickly overwhelmed with life.
Phone a friend – I have a few friends I can always count on to encourage me. Granted you have to be that kind of friend to have one and the time to build those friendships is before you need them, but, “That’s what friends are for.” (Now you’re singing that song aren’t you?) Allow your friend to help you see a proper perspective on your day. It’s probably better than you are currently feeling.
Plan some time away – Put it on your calendar now to get away later. It could be for an afternoon, a day, or a week, depending on what you can do or need to fully restore yourself emotionally. The realization that you are actually going to have some down time often fuels you for the present. Plus, you’ll need the rest then even more.
Dream a little – I like to stop what I’m doing and dream about some new venture, some change of pace, something crazy I’d love to see God do in or through me. Dreaming stretches the imagination and fuels your energy and excitement. Plus, you’ll never dream bigger than God can do.
Evaluate – How often do these feelings occur and how long do they generally last? Are there areas of your life that are leading to feelings of loneliness? Are you isolating yourself from others? Do you agree to do more than you can physically do? Do you have a problem saying no? Do you need to get better at delegating and sharing leadership? Are there really more people around you than your feelings indicate? Are things as bad as your emotions tell you they are? (They usually aren’t.) Depending on your honest answers you can evaluate how deep these feelings are and whether or not you need to seek more immediate or long term help. (There is nothing shameful in a leader seeking counseling or coaching, whichever is needed most.)
Look big picture – Again, things probably aren’t as bad as they appear. There are probably people around you who care and are willing to help. You are likely doing better than you feel you are right now. But, regardless, leaders have to be the ones primarily thinking beyond today. You have to get beyond these emotions to where you are leading people who are looking to you for leadership. What’s the vision you are trying to accomplish? You may not be where you want to be, but is it still a worthy vision? Has God called you to attempt it? Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint in accomplishing the best things in life. Find the help you need. Reenergize. Grow through the experience. Move forward.
It’s easy to produce mediocrity. It takes patience, endurance, and weathering the periods of loneliness in leadership to produce excellence. Which are you striving to achieve with your leadership?
If you’re a lonely leader today, I’m praying for you. Send me an email if you want me to pray for you by name.
What do you do on the days you’re lonely in leadership?