3. SET HEALTHY MARGINS
We must realize and admit that we cannot do everything. For everything we say “yes” to, we are inadvertently saying “no” to something else. So be careful what you say “yes” to. Try to say “yes” to more of the right stuff—stuff in your strength zone, stuff that only you can do, and then either delegate to other leaders, or say “no” when appropriate.
Margin in the life of the leader allows space for creativity to flourish, thinking and decision-making to be possible, helps highlight the important over the urgent, and keeps you enjoying life and leadership over the long haul.
For some of you, you need to do way less unimportant work. For others, you just need to plan an hour or two a day where nothing is scheduled, and be mindful at how much overcrowding you are doing on your daily task list (does it overflow into all hours of the day, everyday? Are you keeping healthy expectations for how much you can accomplish each day?)
At some point, you have to happily put your unfinished work down until tomorrow, and head home to be fully present with and fully enjoy your family.
4. ESTABLISH HEALTHY RHYTHMS
It is not good to go through life and leadership always in fifth gear. We need to be mindful of our exhaustion and motivation levels, and refill our tank with rest, connection with others and healthy rhythms so we can be effective spiritual leadership for the long haul.
There will be seasons that are busier than others, and in those times we need to watch for and guard our rhythms (healthy habits, time with family, etc.).
There will be seasons that will be slower than others, and in those moments we should not wish them by, but soak in rest to get ready for the next stage of the journey.
5. FIND HEALTHY OUTLETS FOR STRESS
We are often slow to realize we need a break, or are living at an unhealthy pace. As spiritual leaders, we need to live out what we believe and teach. This is our greatest test.
As stress builds, and work hurls at us at a consistently overwhelming pace, we can find ourselves exhausted, discouraged, not fully processing pain or rejection, and we need healthy, godly outlets for the daily stresses of spiritual leadership, otherwise we may find ourselves in unhealthy or ungodly outlets.
More than a decade ago, a pastor in Colorado told us their story about how they were running on all cylinders for an unrealistic period of time. Their spiritual tank was overflowing, but their relational, physical and emotional tanks were near empty, and this pastor found themselves secretly wanting to drive off a mountain. We must be mindful of these tanks in our lives. It is not enough to simply fill our spiritual tank—God in His Word has also called us to community, to steward our bodies, and to rest, rhythms and margin.
Exercise, vacation, true days off, processing pain in prayer, godly friends with whom we can process life and ministry, de-cluttering, simplifying life, eating healthy-nutritious food, deep breathing, drinking enough water—all of these things contribute to healthy living and healthy outlets for those in spiritual leadership. We need to come back to them often, and continually review where our soul and emotions are at.
There are times when we simply need to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” We can’t control everything, and life and people sometimes bring great pain. But we need God’s help and healthy outlets to endure hardship, process pain and forgive people who hurt us.