In Exodus 18, we glimpse a spiritually exhausted Moses who spends his days mediating petty disputes. His father-in-law calls him on it: “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out” (verses 17,18). Jethro wisely advises his son-in-law to surround himself with other spiritual leaders so that only the most complex cases will be brought to Moses for resolution.
John C. Bowling, in his book Grace-Full Leadership, says, “Leaders know that they must continually lighten their loads if they are going to continue to lead. Part of learning to balance is to reduce the load and equalize the remaining pressures.” We all have limits, but it is still humbling when leaders have to admit they have taken on too much. Ruth Haley Barton suggests we need to learn to recognize signs—in ourselves and others—that we are spreading ourselves too thin:
· Irritability or hypersensitivity
· Compulsive overworking
· Emotional numbness
· Feeling disconnected from your identity and calling
· Not taking time to attend to basic needs
· Failure to be consistent in spiritual disciplines
Christian leaders are just as driven to succeed as anyone else. Unfortunately, success may be measured by the wrong things: whether or not one has a degree, the size of one’s sphere of influence, or how innovative one’s meetings are. Narcissism plagues leaders, and we can think at times that we possess superhuman abilities. If we have not come to a place of fulfillment and spiritual contentment in the sphere of action God has given us, and tend instead to look longingly at someone else’s field as more successful or somehow more worthy, we have succumbed to narcissism.
When we keep pushing forward in ministry activities and don’t take adequate time for rest and being in God’s presence, our work will lack effectiveness and spirituality. We cannot give to others what in ourselves has been depleted. When we are rested, however, we will operate in discernment, and have the energy and creativity to carry out what God has for us to do.
If you are afraid things won’t be done right if you don’t do them yourself, how can you begin to release some duties and learn to entrust them to others?
What are some healthy ways to get adequate rest and spiritual renewal?
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.
“Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, ©2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.