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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.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Tim Albright says:

    Ron – greatly appreciate your thoughtful reflections and help with self awareness when we are depleted and fatigued. I may like to utilize this in an upcoming (internal) newsletter for ECHO (a Christian non-profit if you would be agreed to that. Thanks again.

  • Craig says:

    Great post, but here’s the serious side of this. When we don’t rest as we should not only are we drained physically but spiritually. That’s when I find myself batteling temptations more. Remember David fell into sin w/ Bathsheba at a time when Kings were supposed to be at war, yet he was at home & had just got up from taking a nap. Rest is vital for our ability to stay strong spiritually!

  • Cindy White says:

    WOW how I needed to read this expecially today. I am sitting here feeling like I so need to go, go and do more going. I am so tired. After reading this, you are so right. Somethings we just need to rest. After reading this I am going to go to bed early and get up ready for the week ahead. I am reminded of a very Godly lady in my life that has told me that sometimes the most Godly thing we can do is to get some rest. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dave Baldwin says:

    Thank you Ron,
    I have used Bobb Biehl's quote on fatigue. He has said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." When I realize I'm in that situation, it almost always points back to fatigue.
    Great posts re: Sierra Leone as well.

  • Melinda Lancaster says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Ron. I totally relate. It seems that even when my body physically stops that resting does not come easy for me.
    I’ve been asking God to teach me how to truly REST. I know it is a necessary component of the Christian life & something I need to learn the art of.
    Continued prayers for your nephew.

  • Victoria York says:

    Amen!! It’s so difficult, especially in our society where we wear busy-ness as a badge of honor, to rest without feeling guilty. And Sundays are so taxing for some believers, especially those who are most willing to serve others, that they no longer feel like a day of rest at all. Right now, our Saturdays are relatively free, and I’m lovin’ it. Thanks for the post.

  • Joe Sewell

    Amen and amen! My father couldn’t rest; he had to be “working,” even when his health (e.g., shortly after surgery) didn’t allow it. He died of colon cancer that could’ve ben treated had he RESTED!

    Inactivity isn’t necessarily laziness. Sometimes it’s waitong for further instructions. Sometimes it’s waiting for someone or something to “catch up.” Sometimes it’s to rest & recuperate.

    I wonder if society’s addiction to coffee & adrenaline changes anything? (My opinion: YES!!!!)

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thanks Joe Not sure when you lost your dad but I'm sorry. I lost mine a couple months ago.

  • Olavo Ribeiro says:

    Dear Ron, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this issue. You gave me a great idea for my sunday message this weekend. God bless!

  • Jesus told the disciples to come apart and rest. Tiredness drains our energy, both physically, and emotionally. You have hit the ball out of the park with this one. Thanks for sharing!