Leadership is a burden, but it is also a blessing. To borrow a phrase from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, leadership is “a gauntlet with a gift in’t.”
So how can leaders thrive and not crumble under the weight of the responsibility? There are four things that every burdened leader needs to know.
Leaders are called to a higher calling and will often experience greater trials and burdens.
Leadership is more than a personality type or a skill set. Spiritual leadership—the kind of leadership that impacts the world for Christ—is a gift. And like Browning opined, gifts can be accompanied by agony and distress.
Leaders feel deeply. Their passion to empathize, to care, and to change the world is what makes them leaders.
As Winston Churchill stated:
It all boils down to what you do with those burdens. Lately I’ve been reading Paul Chappell’s The Burden Bearer. Too often leaders try to carry the weight of their burdens on their own.
God only intended for one man to bear the full brunt of the world’s problems. My friend, you are not Jesus.
But He wants to help you bear the weight. He wants you to yoke up with Him.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Burdened leaders must realize that faith is like a muscle.
Muscles are amazing things. Muscles help us to bend, withstand pressure, lift great weights, and stand strong. Faith does the same thing for our spiritual lives.
Like muscles, faith only grows and stays strong when it is exercised.
God exercises our faith by placing us in situations that cause us to trust Him.
It is during these tough times that our faith and confidence in God, not our own abilities, is built. Without faith, a burdened leader will never be able to overcome the weight of his responsibility.
Burdened leaders need to recognize that God gives grace for the moment.
Like many leaders and business owners, I struggle with worrying. My overactive brain chews on a problem so much that I can mentally turn a molehill into Mount Everest.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard.
Recently, during one of these moments, God reminded me that He promises to give grace to help in time of need.
Grace isn’t like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save which comes while you still have a few rolls of paper towels left on the shelf. Grace is like FedEx’s First Overnight which comes right when you need it.
Quit trying to take early advances on grace. Trust God (and have faith) that He will give grace right when you need it.
Burdened leaders must practice the presence of God and walk in step with Him throughout the day.
This is another tough one for me. I wake up and go to bed each day continually battling to juggle the responsibilities, pressures, and expectations of me on a variety of different levels.
But I’m learning to walk in step with God and let Him show me what I need to do each day, each moment. My heart’s prayer throughout the day is “Lord, show me what YOU want me to do, right here, right now.”
I’ve watched God flip my schedule. I have watched God add to my schedule. I have watched God clear my schedule.
When you live your life like this, you start developing a habit of practicing the presence of God.
The book, The Practice of the Presence of God, belongs on every Christian leader’s bookshelf.
When you live your life recognizing that God is always with you, it gives you a chance to commune with Him right in the midst of the chaos. In fact, you begin to embrace the uncertainty as a special opportunity to see God work.
Come with me to the Burden Bearer today, burdened leader. He is waiting to lift the weights off our shoulders.
After all, He is the one with a proven track record in that department.
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