I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately. I’ve been thinking about your service and how you’re chasing hard after your calling as a leader. I’ve been thinking about the way you handle everything as well as you do. The way you care. The way you love the people you serve.
I see your passion. I see your perseverance. I see that sometimes, even when you don’t want to admit it, this leader thing in its finest and truest form can become too much for your soul to bear.
I’ve been thinking about how you pour your heart and soul into your small groups, your ministry projects, your family, and even your dreams. You want to give everyone and everything your best. You’re giving it all you’ve got, letting your passion and heart for the Lord push you from one thing to the next.
It’s all good work, right? That’s what we tell ourselves.
We convince ourselves that we’re doing all this good work for everyone else, but we never stop and think about how it affects our own souls.
But if you and I were across from each other right now, sipping on our favorite beverage, maybe a chai tea for you and a mocha for me, and we were brutally honest with one another, we would say the words we’re afraid to say. We’re afraid to say them now because it might affect how we’re perceived as leaders. Afraid that by voicing the very thing we’re scared to say, it might mean we somehow don’t care.
If we were to put our drinks down for a minute, look one another straight in the eyes, and say that brutally honest thing to each other, we would say this:
We are tired. We are spent. We are overburdened by the Kingdom work we do.
And our hearts? Well, they’re all torn up over it.
You see, as leaders we are so very passionate about our causes, our groups of people, and our callings, and too often we forget to step back and check our souls for getting overburdened. We’re afraid that saying it’s all too much for us to bear will make it appear as if we don’t care. We care too much, you see. That’s how our hearts get so intertwined with the people and causes we serve. We want to take it all on.
As leaders, we’re given the extensive privilege of doing real life with people. When we do real life with people, real hard stuff comes up. I don’t know about you, but one of my struggles as a leader is trying to take on the burdens of those around me. The trials of the people I love, the groups I lead, the work I long to do.
But as much as it makes my heart soar to help and lead others, I’ve realized I need to set some healthy boundaries so I can continue to do this Kingdom work my soul longs to do. If you find yourself in a similar spot today, approaching burnout and needing to give your soul a rest, can I offer you some encouragement?
You don’t need to be everything to everyone.
You don’t have to fix everything.
You don’t have to be it all for someone else.
I know, it’s hard isn’t it? I wish I could say I’m some reformed leader who doesn’t get weighed down anymore or struggle with this, but I can’t. My soul still gets overburdened with the needs of those around me. I want to fix whatever trial they’re going through. I want to offer a solution. I want to see them freed from the chains that hold them back. But I don’t always have the answers, and I can’t break their chains. Thankfully, I know the One who can.
I was chatting with a friend and I expressed to her my need to lift people’s burdens. I explained to her that I was having sleepless nights worrying over some of the problems I knew of within “my people” and how I wanted to fix them so badly but didn’t know how.
“That’s not your job,” she said firmly. “You’re not supposed to fix everything.”
Truth I needed to hear. But then she said something I will never forget, and it’s something I want to say to you today. She went on to tell me that feeling that deeply over someone else’s burdens was actually a gift. “You have a gift,” she said. “But you need to learn to use it in the right way.”
My leader friend, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the weight of the issues in your small groups, in your mentor relationships, or in your ministry projects, let me encourage you today.
Own the gift of having a soul that is burdened for others.
It’s not a bad thing. God gives us this gift. But learn how to use it. Learn how to give your heart to others while still maintaining boundaries. There are some things I’m finding helpful in my own struggles with this as a leader, and I thought I would share them with you.
You can facilitate growth, but you cannot go through something for someone or make someone do something they are not ready to do. This is extremely hard for leaders to do because many of us are take-charge people. We can lead by example and help to facilitate growth, but ultimately we’ve got to step aside and let God work.
Be aware of your limitations as a leader. If an issue becomes too much for you to handle or goes over your head, it’s perfectly acceptable to link people with resources that can better suit their needs. It’s important to know where your gifts and abilities lie as a leader and where your limitations begin.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes all we can do for someone is pray. It sounds like the easy way out, but it’s not. Prayer is powerful. It’s necessary. We can go to battle on our knees for our brothers and sisters in Christ when they need us to with the power of prayer. Sometimes we can’t physically help someone, but we can pray. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer for those around you.
Give yourself permission to rest. This is probably the hardest one for me personally. I feel like if I’m resting then I’m not working, and I want to work for the kingdom. But friend, God wants us to rest. Even Jesus rested during his ministry. It’s important to let our souls rest so we can continue to take care of God’s people. Maybe it’s physical rest for you. Maybe it’s taking a break from a leadership position for a season. Maybe it’s a trip with your family. Whatever it is for you, give yourself permission to rest. God is in control. He doesn’t expect us to run ourselves ragged.
I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately, because I am you. I know the passion you have and the love you have for your people because I have it too. I know you want to do that mighty Kingdom work, because I want to do it too. As leaders, let’s own our gift. Let’s embrace that desire to take on one another’s burdens. But let’s also be protective of our hearts so that we can continue pressing on and doing the work God has called us to do.
Amanda’s words of wisdom touch on a need that is near and dear to the heart and calling of the WomenLeadingWomen.us ministry, and is the very reason why the Inspiration Meet Ups exists. Find out about the next online meet up and how to registered at womenleadingwomen.us/meetup/.