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6 Sustaining Lifelines for Leaders


The path of leadership is never constant; there are always highs and lows, good days and bad days. The challenge is to remain consistent through it all. Consistency elevates people’s trust and confidence in your leadership.

We are different in our wiring and current circumstances, but there are clear patterns in the conversations I’ve had with more than thirty church leaders over the past two weeks. As an overview, they tend to group up like this.

  • For some, it’s about great momentum, progress, and keeping up—more success than setbacks.
  • For others, it’s more about struggle and maybe discouragement. More questions than answers.
  • For all, it’s about solving problems, making decisions, and carrying pressure.

Church leadership always carries with it seasons of success and setbacks, momentum and grind, joy and discouragement. Yet, we all do better through those seasons when we have learned the rhythms of resilience — the lifelines we need.

The highs alone are not enough to sustain you through the lows.

Even if you have been blessed with great success and sustained momentum, certain lifelines allow you to keep going with depth, meaning, and joy.

6 sustaining lifelines worth fighting for:

You’ll notice that this list isn’t about more to do but enables you to do more.

1. Margin To Think

One of the highest priorities in a leader’s life that ministry can steal from your calendar is time to think. Fight for that time.

Dedicated think time is essential. Don’t fall into the misconception that we are thinking all the time. We are not. Our minds are like powerful software that functions on autopilot for much of our day. Set aside time to think.

Problem-solving is the primary way we as leaders invest most of our focused think time. Other specific categories of thinking are, for example, writing a talk, spiritual and self-reflection (including scripture,) and discerning culture.

The desired outcome of intentional think time is new insight that guides your decisions and informs the direction of your leadership.

New insight doesn’t mean a thought never before conceived, but fresh and relevant solutions, personal insight, increased self-awareness, and understanding of culture.

2. Reason To Laugh

It’s unfortunate to go a whole day with no reason to laugh. Yes, there are days with a full agenda and nothing particularly light-hearted, but even on those days, there is reason to smile if we look for it.

Some leaders have personalities that find laughter quickly. Others need to work at it. Neither is right nor wrong, but it’s always true that laughter is a great medicine and a powerful leadership lifeline.

Because of my passion, schedule, and sometimes intensity, there are days I can become overly focused. So, one of my reminders is a little smooth stone on my desk that literally has the word “laugh” painted on it.

Kind of dumb, I know. But it works.

I see it and smile. It reminds me that no matter the circumstance, I have much to be grateful for and that joy is a choice.

How about you? Do you look for laughter and create light-hearted moments?