All leaders go through the land of discouragement at some point in their leadership journey. Resilient leaders refuse to make it their home. They know the land of discouragement is real, but they also know it can be navigated in healthy ways.
What can leaders do to navigate through the inevitable land of discouragement?
Identify the source of discouragement. Several common sources of discouragement are:
Unconfessed sin – I have allowed known disobedience to linger without confessing and allowing God’s restoration.
Broken relationships – I have not done my part to seek forgiveness and restoration in my relationships.
Mishandled stress – I have not developed the disciplines and relationships necessary to work through my stress in healthy ways.
Professional misalignment – I am not serving within my giftedness or calling. I am committed to a paycheck more than my life purpose.
Performance based living – I compare the results of my ministry with the results of others and use that as the basis of my value.
Agenda of others – I allow the plans of other people to govern my schedule and my emotional energy.
Uncontrollable circumstances – I have allowed things I cannot control to take priority over what I can control.
Clarify what is lost if you get stuck in the land of discouragement. When we get stuck in discouragement the consequences are:
Something other than God becomes your object of worship.
Your source of significance shifts from God to your performance and the opinion of others.
Your audience moves from an Audience of One who loves you unconditionally to an audience of many who always wants more.
Your soul becomes malnourished and unable to hear clearly what God wants to say to you and through you.
Practice the disciplines of resilient leaders. You won’t start leaning into the next chapter of our life if you are busy rereading and regretting the last chapter. You may not be able to start over at the beginning but, you can start today and create a new ending by practicing these disciplines.
Seriously consider what it means to be a person who is unconditionally loved by a God who knows everything about you and loves you anyway. God did not create you to be a leader. He created you to be the receiver of His generous love and grace. Leading is what you do. Being the object of His gospel is who you are.
Clearly embrace God’s call on your life. Ultimately the call of God will keep you where nothing else can. If we are depending on anything but the call of God to keep us in ministry, when what we are depending on runs out, we become vulnerable to discouragement and spiritual leanness.
Regularly watch the Game Films on your life and ministry in order to do an audience, character and competence inventory. How did pride and fear show up this week? Where did you make sure you got the credit for something today? How did you encourage or celebrate the accomplishments of those around you during the last team meeting? How did you shift the blame or take responsibility for what happened around you in that email? Which problems did you admit to God you have no idea how to solve?
Engage in daily spiritual disciplines to nurture your soul. Your skills may take you where your character can’t keep you if you ignore your soul. How much prayer was in your daily routine in the last seven days? In the absence of an intentional plan to care for our souls we will hide our issues in an attempt to reach our goals and our need for security and significance. Hiding always signals trouble and causes failure.
Run your decisions through a faith and eternity matrix before implementing them. What does the Bible say about situations like you are facing? Do your decisions look for where God is at work around you so you can join Him? Who will receive the glory if you succeed? How are the Great Commission and the Great Commandment furthered through your decision? What level faith is required to move forward with this decision?
Build and equip a team of world changers. Start with a small group like Jesus did. Establish Jesus as your role model when it comes to leading through adversity (Hebrews 12:1-3). Embrace the truths that Jesus taught and modeled (John 8:31-32). Put your life on display so others can see the life transformation that is happening in you (Romans 12:1-2).
Take a resilience quiz.
Have I seriously considered what it means to be unconditionally loved by God who knows all about me?
Have I clearly stated my understanding of God’s call on my life?
Do I regularly watch the Game Films of my life and do an audience, character and competence assessment?
Are the spiritual disciplines required for a nurtured soul a consistent part of my life?
Do I run my decisions through a faith and eternity matrix before implementation?
Am I gathering and building a community of world changers?