The demands of being a leader often mean we end up ignoring what’s best for ourselves in the name of productivity. That sounds noble but it isn’t sustainable leadership your organization needs.Being a leader often means we ignore what’s best for ourselves in the name of productivity. Click To Tweet
The work of leading never stops and technology allows us to do that work 24/7. There are opportunities to advance, problems to solve, people to develop, and endless books, blogs, and articles to read to keep on top of changes. Even the passion for the mission of the organization we lead can drive us to the point of being an unhealthy leader.
This is an ongoing issue in my own life. I personally struggle with the discipline of a consistent exercise plan. I start and stop often. An executive coach recently told me I needed to get mad about it to the point I make it happen – no excuses but owning my own health as part of the requirement to be a great leader.
Has the work of leadership made you an unhealthy leader? Have meetings replaced workouts, conference calls replaced much-needed doctor’s appointments, and business books replaced time in God’s Word? Some real danger signs are sleepless nights, constant fatigue, reactionary leadership, being overweight, loss of energy and passion, and maybe even a loss of hope. So what are some consistent disciplines we can do to make sure we are healthy leaders?
In this two-part series on being a healthy leader, we’ll explore some essential things to work into your leadership routine.
The first 4 tips to being a healthy leader:
“Stop your fighting—and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” Psalm 46:10 HCSB
While many Bible translations use the phrase “Be still and know,” I love that the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translates it: “Stop your fighting.” I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded to stop fighting (a great word to describe leadership), put down my sword and reflect on God and all His incredible glory. I need to stop to know that God is in control.
As leaders, we often feel the full weight of the organizations we lead. We think it is all up to us to get the win. Time in God’s Word and time in prayer are essential to stay healthy. When the work of leadership robs us of this time, we will hit a wall.
So stop. Stop and know that God is God. Stop to pour God’s Word into your life to be reminded often of the truth of the gospel. The energy to lead will come from Him. I like to start my day early with God. It sets the tone for the rest of my day. Set this daily time and mark it on your calendar.
Rest is sacred
“God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.” Genesis 2:3 HCSB
God didn’t need to rest but He did. And He declared this rest, this pause, as holy. Yet this concept is often the most overlooked in our hyper-connected age of constant updates, messages, texts and endless news cycles. In the drive to always do we often miss the sacred rest.
Rest looks different for all of us but rest is required. For pastors or church leaders, rest needs to happen on a day other than Sunday. The older I get, the more I guard the boundaries of rest in my life. Unplug. The world will not fall apart without you. Trust me. Pockets of rest will refresh you and keep you healthy. Your family and the people you lead need you to rest.
Mark a weekly time of rest.
Own your calendar
“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.“ Psalm 90:12 HCSB
I mean own it. Set your strategic plan and work it. That plan includes the broader purpose of your life including the organization you lead. The boundaries between work and life are gone now in the new era of technology and mobile work. Now, more than ever, you need to integrate the broader purpose of our life with your work.
Step back and list the priorities for your life. Your overall health, your marriage, your family, your friends, your ministry, and the organization you lead must be a part of your planning. Creating a healthy work-life routine has been one of the most critical aspects to ensure my healthy lifestyle. When I do annual calendar planning, my family and other priorities show up. Time with my 90 year old dad (taking him to Alaska for the first time this year), date time with Rodney, time with my three grandchildren, time with dear friends, and ministry plans through my church all get priority on my calendar. There are always adjustments but if you have no margin in your life, you have no space to adjust to the most important priorities in your life. The urgent will eat up your life. Guard it, own it, and if you have to, get mad enough to protect it. Own your calendar! To be a healthy leader, you have to set boundaries and you have to learn to say no often (with grace most of the time). If you’re looking for a great weekend with your spouse, I invite you to join my husband Rodney and I in October for a Marriage Getaway.
“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2
I believe God has a sense of humor, and I think sometimes we need to take a step back and laugh. Life doesn’t always have to be so serious, and sometimes laughter is the medicine we need to gain perspective on our circumstances and remember that God is bigger than whatever we are facing. Ask your family to help you learn to laugh.
These are the first 4 tips to being a healthy leader, and we’ll follow-up next week with the last 4. Which ones are easy for you? Which ones are harder?