Dealing with Fatigue as a Leader

It is Thursday of VBS!  For our VBS week, that means tonight is “family night” as well.  We have an incredible team of volunteers and a great staff team.  For those of you who have ever served through VBS, fatigue happens. For our pastoral staff, it is a taxing week as we are involved and available during VBS in the morning and then fulfill our daily responsibilities in the afternoon and evening.  This week has reminded me that every volunteer, every leader, every pastor, every person will walk through a day or a week or a longer season of fatigue.

Here a few ways I have discovered to better prepare and walk through those seasons when we deal with physical fatigue.

  1. READ THE SIGNS – For those of us who lead others, it is easy to be focused on the next objective or the next big project. Sometimes a fast pace masks fatigue. When fatigue becomes a reality, there are typically warning signs that begin flashing in our lives. For me, when I’m fatigued I feel lethargic, I am short with people, I make uncharacteristic mistakes and my mind wanders constantly. When these warning signs begin to alarm, it is a way to know I am fatigued. What are some signs that reveal fatigue in your life?
  2. CREATE MARGIN – Once I read the signs, I have to create some margin. This is easier said than done (I know). The only way I have discovered to begin recovering from fatigue is to create some space in my life. Take a day off or a long weekend or even a week or maybe longer. I have discovered the margin I need depends on how severe the fatigue I am experiencing.
  3. SEEK THE LORD – If you are a follower of Christ like me, I have found this to be non-negotiable in my recovering from fatigue. In busy seasons, even though I may be spending time with Him daily, when I am fatigued I do not always listen very well. It is not a matter of God not speaking. I am not hearing Him. When I create margin I often change up my routine. I might journal for a season or another means to hear more clearly from Him. Without His insight, I often fall into my same patterns.
  4. EVALUATE YOUR EVERYDAY – Is there root cause of my fatigue? Is there something in my everyday routine that is draining me? When I create margin and step away from my routine often I see more clearly any blind spots I might have. This might be over-committing our children to sports or other activities. It might be a bent toward workaholism. It might be financial stress that is draining you. There are times when creating margin that I realize that some things are unnecessary.
  5. RECHARGE AND RELAX – Several years ago I read a life-altering book by Wayne Cordeiro entitled, Leading on Empty. This book caused me to think critically about what “fills my tank” and what “drains my tank.” One of the key points was that in seasons of stress and busyness and fatigue, we often close off those things that fill our tank because we feel we do not have time for them. What he discovered is that in those seasons we must actually increase the things that “fill our tank.” I have found that fishing and spending time on the lake fills my tank. What are those hobbies or activities that help us recharge and relax and breathe.
  6. SEEK HELP – I would be remiss if I failed to mention that for some fatigue is not due to stress or a busy life. It is possible that after attempting to create margin and recharging and relaxing and fatigue is not diminishing. It might be that it is time to schedule an appointment with a physician or counselor just to talk through what you are experiencing. There are times when we need someone with professional training to help us.
  7. MAKE ADJUSTMENTS – One of the hardest steps is to remove things from our lives as the Lord and our margin reveals the need to do so. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins shares that “good” is often the enemy of “great.” It is not that what we are involved in are bad things. They are good. But sometimes it is the “good” things that overwhelm our lives. I could share many examples, but you get the idea. Make some adjustments!
  8. ENJOY LIFE – In John 10:10, Jesus shared an amazing truth. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” If you are not experiencing the abundant life of Jesus, it is available. If you have experienced it and are in a season of fatigue, I hope this encourages you to take some steps to enjoy life more abundantly.

What am I missing? What have you found to be helpful in seasons of fatigue?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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