Have you ever led someone who is going through a tough time? They tell you they’re okay, but it’s easy to see they’re struggling. Perhaps they’re so busy caring for everyone else around them that they fail to care for themselves. Or, they feel the pressure to “have it all together” and aren’t taking time to inventory their own emotions.
In this season, this person could even be you.
As pastors, the most difficult people to lead can be ourselves. In the past several weeks we have counseled, prayed with, encouraged, and guided others in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, but what do we do when the crisis begins to wear on us?
How do we lead ourselves in a season that feels hard and full of uncertainty? Is it okay if we’re not okay?
Pastor Craig Groeschel says, “People would rather follow a leader who is always real rather than a leader who is always right.” Leading ourselves in this season starts with being real with how we are feeling, and naming any anxiety, frustration, sadness, or fear. In Scripture, King David knows what it was like to deal with his feelings. The psalms are full of examples of David pouring his heart out before God. (Start with Psalm 34!) God wants you to pour out your heart too—engage in His Word, prayer, journal, praise, and process in His presence.
Another important way to lead ourselves through a tough season is to practice transparency and vulnerability. Who do you have in your life that you can get real with? Whether a spouse, counselor, or friend, we must remember that while we’re caring for others, it’s important to allow others to care for us, too. But they can only do that if we let them!
While it’s healthy and human to experience and process negative emotions, we have to be careful! We can camp out for a minute, even a day or two, but we cannot live there. It’s important to remember that feelings do not equal truth. Proverbs 3:5 says it best, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” We can dig into God’s Word and look to it as our anchor of Truth. Feelings will come and go, but the word of God holds fast!
Emotional exhaustion is real, and the burdens of leading through a crisis can feel heavy. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” This Scripture reminds us that even as pastors, we were never meant to shoulder burden alone. We must come to Jesus and allow Him to refresh our souls. He wants to and is able to do the heavy lifting.
If you find yourself needing encouraging words today, check out this quick message from Pastor Craig Groeschel.
Read these words from Pastor Amy Groeschel as she shared some of her journaling in a challenging season.
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