Leadership, and how to avoid burnout

Posted by Aaron Lewendon  ·  Be the first to comment

I was elected to lead, not to read” is pretty much the only line I can remember from The Simpsons movie. That rhyming refusal to take even a moment to consider picking up a report that is, at the very most, 30 pages long before making a drastic decision is the funniest line from the film. It may also be the wisest.

At the time of writing, it’s mid-September. For teachers, children, retailers, and Church leaders everything is picking up speed. The long, lazy summer is over. Now comes the grind.

For anyone in leadership September is a starting pistol for the race to Christmas, then it’s new year, then Easter preparations begin, and before you know it another September is here. Aside from the calendar days slipping by, the one thing many leaders fail to notice is themselves. A plethora of things is asked of you every day. Everything about leadership can soon become purely focused on those you lead; putting out their fires, helping them find rest, facilitating and encouraging their ideas and projects. You spend more and more of your time, and yourself, in your role than you may realise.

But that is not healthy.

You start to act like you were chosen to lead, and not read. ‘I don’t have time for that’, ‘maybe later’, ‘I just need to do this one thing first’. Sound familiar?

So, before you burn out, here are some books on leading in a way that is healthy, sustainable, and re-energised.

Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash

Zeal Without Burnout

Christopher Ash’s book is best described as a self-investment. He has, over many years, seen leaders burn too bright, try to give all they have, and wind up completely exhausted and disillusioned by the Church which they led. He even found himself on the receiving end of his self-sacrifice.

Zeal Without Burnout is an antidote born out of those experiences. It’s for anyone passionate about serving Christ. It’s not here to dampen that passion, but to grow it. It wants you to be enthused, excited about leading and giving, and it wants to sustain that zeal.

The Emotionally Healthy Leader

 The Emotionally Healthy Leader

I am beginning to lose count of people I know who have enthused about Peter Scazzero’s ‘Emotionally Healthy’ books. Their honest and insightful looks into deep development, growing in emotional maturity, from a distance seem a little hard to grasp. Emotional Intelligence is equally a neglected area of growth for many, as well as a loaded term. That tide is changing, though.

With The Emotionally Healthy Leader Peter Scazzero shows how developing a deep inner-life can pour out into your work. By going deeper than any average leadership-type book, it offers meaningful tools to maturity and flourishing that help you grow yourself and your calling. 

Leading On Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

Leading On Empty

All it took was a simple jog to leave Wayne Cordeiro crying by the kerbside. Scheduled to speak at a leadership conference that day, he found himself completely spent. Empty. This was the moment where he realised he had been doing everything wrong. The next three years from that day he spent readjusting how he lead, lived, and looked at his work. Leading On Empty is the story of those years, and the revelations he found looking carefully at why leaders often don’t look themselves. This is the book for you if you are in that same position, worried that today may be the day it all becomes too much.

Now for a moment of candour: I don’t care what you read, only that you take the time out to do so. Take the time to invest in your own health, sanity, and wellbeing. It will benefit you, your church, and those around you if you take the time out to regenerate. Whether it is one the above books made for that purpose, or even just a few Garfield comics (a great role-model for taking the time to rest).

I was elected to lead, not to read” is not the story of your life, so don’t let it get that way.

25th September

September 25th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon

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