Are you worn out and wondering to yourself, "how can it only be the 2nd week of January?" I knew there wasn’t anything magical about a new year but I’m a little surprised, even disappointed that I didn’t get a “bump” of energy. Maybe you can relate.
Or maybe by the time you’re listening to this episode the newness of the year is a distant memory and you’re experiencing fatigue. Perhaps it's unexpected. Maybe you didn’t see it coming or you’ve been dealing with it for a while and you thought it would have dissipated by now...but it’s lingering...it just won’t seem to go away.
Sometimes fatigue will disappear on its own but it is very rare. Healthy leaders resist the temptation of ignoring the signs and signals God gives us and instead pay attention and lean into what they are feeling and experiencing in order to see what God is doing.
Fatigue is defined as, "extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion.”
The type of fatigue that typically impacts our ministry is emotional. It comes from intense situations and seasons of having to use our emotional and mental energy to make decisions, process information, and deal with circumstances that are challenging. And we have had a year of challenging!
There are many different ways emotional fatigue can manifest itself. Here are just a few signs that you may be dealing with it:
This is a dangerous place to be for an extended period of time. If we don’t do something, it will wreak havoc on our ministry. Remember, our default is usually to ignore it, hoping it will go away or we tell ourselves we don’t have the time to do a bunch of navel gazing to see what’s going on. But when we ignore our fatigue, when we push it down, when we do not guard our hearts, it impacts our ministry.
None of us are immune to the effects that emotional fatigue can have on us. Eventually ignoring the pain, refusing to stop can do permanent damage.
Healthy leaders don't just hope something will change. They take action. There are a few simple things you can do to start addressing your fatigue.
God gives us these signs and signals so that we can stop, evaluate and see what’s beneath the surface. He wants us to pay attention and lean in to what He is trying to do and say. One of the best things we can do is to talk to God as simply and as honestly as we can. Share what’s going on. Are you tired? Tell Him. Fed up? Angry? Unmotivated? Do you want to quit? Whatever it is, .nothing is too much for Him. He cares about it all and He will use it all. Nothing will be wasted.
Stop doing the things that are contributing to your emotional fatigue. Some "breaks" can be permanent, while others are adjustments to make during this season. These can include taking a break from activities, particular problems that needs to be solved, and people. Perhaps you want to integrate a rhythm of Sabbath into your week.
You might be thinking...I can’t...I can’t afford to take a break of any of it, but I invite you to reframe your thinking. Can you afford not to? What do you risk if you keep continuing down this path? What kind of permanent damage could you do if you ignore the signs God is giving you?
Our emotional health is connected to our physical health. Fuel yourself with good nutrition, move your body, and get the sleep you need to heal.
Find a trusted friend, or someone who understands the world of ministry. Tell them what you’re experiencing. This is helpful in several ways: It helps you process and sort out your feelings. It also keeps things from staying hidden in the dark. Sometimes we are afraid to share for whatever reason: guilt, shame, or we think we must not have what it takes if we are fatigued (all lies by the way). When you share you expose what’s going on and things aren’t as scary once they’re in the light.
You may also find that you would benefit from a spiritual director or a Christian counselor. Get help when you need it.
You are so precious! You matter! Your leadership matters! Do whatever it takes to deal with your fatigue before it wreaks havoc on your life and ministry. Remember, emotional fatigue is normal, we should expect it...it comes to us all at some point. The question is: Will we stop, will we pay attention, and with God’s help, attend to what’s going on beneath the surface?
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