I remember returning from Africa late one Sunday night. I was physically exhausted, but emotionally energized, so I hit the floor running at full speed Monday morning. I had back-to-back meetings from early morning until late night my first day back to work. Tuesday was no different. Wednesday we had an extended family emergency, which occupied most of the day. By the time Thursday came, I began to crash. And, it wasn’t pretty. For me or anyone on our team.
That scenario has been repeated many times in my life.
In seasons like this I’m reminded of an important leadership and life principle. When I’m physically tired I tend to be less than my professional self.
Here are 7 things which happen when I’m tired:
Doubt my abilities
It’s not uncommon for a leader to have doubts, but when I am stressed I’m far more likely to think I don’t have what it takes to perform what’s required of me. Of course, I know intellectually God’s strength is perfect in my weakness, but when I’m tired my emotions are stronger than truth.
Question my purpose
There have been times I wondered if I was even supposed to be a pastor anymore. It wasn’t because of anything happening in the church. It was simply I was tired. My exhaustion was feeding me lies.
Lose patience faster
I’m not the most patient person. It’s a matter of spiritual maturity in which I still need to mature. But, when I’m fatigued my weaknesses – my sinful ways – seem to exaggerate.
Ignore known truth
Again, being tired impacts my emotional state. My emotions gain fuel. Truth – what’s real – drowns in a sea of doubt. I struggle spiritually when I am tired. Sin comes quicker, because I ignore the truth I already know.
Give up more easily
I would usually push through walls or challenges. But, I can be a big wimp when I am tired. I quit quickly.
Lean toward a negative response
I’m usually the one who brings the positive perspective to a room. I like to spin negatives into positives. The glass is way over half full for me. But, sometimes when I’m extremely tired I can seem to only see what’s wrong with the world.
Stress faster than usual
Stress is simply a way our body protects itself from being overwhelmed. Stress screams, “Stop! You’re going to crash if you keep going!” It may or may not be true most of the time, but when I’m exhausted it’s probably a needed reaction. I am about to crash.
Sometimes the best thing to do is the hardest thing for me to do. R E S T ! Take it easy.
When I find myself in times of severe fatigue, I’ve been known to go home and take a nap at lunch. Then I’ll spend a night or two doing nothing, which is difficult for me). I go to bed early. I sleep late (for me). Then I feel better, have a better outlook on life and think more productively.
What you do when your exhausted will communicate a great deal to the people you are trying to lead. The moral of this post is to never allow your physical condition to impact your practical opportunity as a leader.
In a future post I will share some ways I personally deal with fatigue.