Exhaustion

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“When leaders take back power, when they act as heroes and saviors, they end up exhausted, overwhelmed, and deeply stressed” ~Margaret J. Wheatley

Dagger. Heart. Twist.

Yes, Margaret J. Wheatley, who studies organizational behavior… who I want to ignore and write off as another “consultant” i.e. “those who can’t…consult.” Those who can’t be bothered to do the real work, like to stand on the outside and point in and tell us with “boots on the ground” everything we’re doing wrong.

Okay, this is not what consultants do (well not what good ones do) but this is what my brain thinks when I hear the word “consultant”. Much like “self-help” or “life’s purpose”. ugh!

The truth is every leader needs a refresher in leadership. Every one of us. As a pastor I am a manager of leaders AND a leader myself. It is the joke that in churches I am the lion to the land of misfit toys (Jesus is the lion BTW I’m a Charlie-in-the-box or something or maybe Jesus is Santa… okay back to the topic). Leadership in church is hard.

I lead a congregation, a staff, individuals with unique talents and gifts in all walks of life, governing boards, committees, all the while, “serving” them and God in this time and place.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Yesterday, a parishioner entered my office and gave me a lecture on how I was taking on too much. She should know, she spent the majority of her married life married to a pastor. She has seen first hand what happens when we take on too much, take it personally, and invest to the detriment of everything else in life.

I am exhausted. And I am exhausted in the way Margaret J. Wheatley describes. I am also exhausted because life is sometimes exhausting. For the last several months my life and my beloved schedule has been turned and twisted. Sometimes for the better, sometimes the worse. My thoughts are moving in a thousand different directions. I go to work and I don’t know where to begin, I go home and worry about work, I sit to pray and end up feeling guilty about not getting to the grocery store because I had to work late, or my husband had to work late, and the kids need to be picked up, and dinner, and bedtime, and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Wake up and do it again.

Yesterday I was wondering how my cup could be so empty and so overflowing all at the same time. Then a friend reminded me that if we are not building relationships then what’s the point? Yes, yes. When did I stop remembering that “I” am not more important than “you”. That “you” are not more important than “me” and that none of us and no thing is more important than the God that is in and through and around.

I want to stop having people think I have somewhere more important to be. Starting with myself.

I want to invite God back into the conversation of vision and direction.

I want to be a leader that empowers, not just assigns tasks.

I know how to be this leader, it is when I forget and over function that I get this kind of exhausted. The exhaustion that cannot be slept away, because it is driven by anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. I am not hopeless, and neither is any situation I am working in right now. For in God, there is always hope. I believe this. I really, really do.

Renew me, merciful One, I alone will never be enough, thank goodness! You gave us a community and a little plot of space and time and asked us to work together. I am thankful for the exhaustion, the stress, the overwhelmed feelings, because without them, I would destroy myself and so many around me without even knowing it. Renew and refresh. So I may serve you and neighbor. Amen.

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