The title is confusing, isn’t it? It seems to assume some leaders worry and some don’t. The truth is, however, most leaders will have occasions of worry. Worry is an emotion—and, often far more powerful than principles of leadership are the emotions of leadership.
I’ve talked to some who say at least one day a week they are consumed with anxiety and fear. It’s the kind of frustration that, left unchecked, makes them almost want to quit. I talked to a pastor recently who is struggling with stomach problems (I won’t get more graphic than that), because of the worry he is dealing with as a leader.
The fact you worry shows you are normal, human and conscientious as a leader. You want to be successful and the natural reaction is to worry when you feel you may not be.
But, emotions play tricks on us. They’re fickle. They’re unreliable. Our desire to do well causes our emotions to produce worry. And, constant worry can destroy a good leader, because it will control how the leader responds to others.
Obviously, Jesus said, “Do not worry!” We know this truth. We believe it. We want to live it. So, what’s the practical side of Jesus’ command in leadership and how do we actually live out the command?
And, here’s something you need to know—or may need reminding. Having a strong faith is no guarantee your emotions—worry—won’t play tricks on you at times.
All of us worry, but how you respond when your worry seems to control you as a leader?
Here are seven words of encouragement for leaders who worry:
Pray and study.
You knew I’d say this, didn’t you? Worry is, by definition, a misplaced trust. Ultimately your answer is in God’s ability and His control, not your own. If worry is consistently plaguing your leadership, improving your relationship with Christ through Bible study and prayer is step one.
Remember your purpose.
You have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. When worry hits you, you need grounding to something more permanent than your worries. You have a purpose. You believe in a vision. You have goals. You need to remember what fuels your fire and why you are willing to take the risk of leadership. If worry has gotten to the place where you’re not sure of your purpose anymore, stop everything and find it again. You can’t afford not to.
Contact an encouraging friend.
I always find other leaders can speak truth into my life just when I need it most. God uses relationships to strengthen us and make us better. I have to be bold enough to text a friend and say, “I could use some encouragement,” but I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve been that bold. If you don’t have someone like this in your life, that’s your assignment. The goal is to find the person and build the relationship before you need them.
Review your track record.
Most likely you’ve had success, which led to the position you have now. You can do it again. One reason I keep an encouragement file is so I can read through the positive things I’ve done on days when nothing seems positive.
Count your blessings.
And, name them one by one. There are always others who would love to have what you have. Someone is always worse off than you are. Most likely, even outside the position you have as a leader, God has blessed your life. Spend some time remembering the good God has allowed you to experience. The list is probably longer than you think and will help you avoid worry as you recall what God has already given you.
Get some rest—and hydrate.
Worry is more present when you are tired. And, I’ve learned we are often dehydrated and it makes an impact on us physically and emotionally. You may have to quit for the day so you can prepare for better days. The depth of the worry should determine the length of the period of rest. I’ve also learned part of being fully “rested” also includes making sure you are as healthy as you can be by eating the right foods and exercising, especially during the busiest seasons of life.
People who most need to rationalize hate this one, but most of the things we worry about never come true. Is your worry based on reality or based on your emotional assumptions? Dismiss the things you can’t control, aren’t certain will go wrong, or the unknown. The more you limit irrational thoughts, the less for which you’ll have to worry.
Let me also say that if you are suffering from serious anxiety—to the point of being depressed, that’s not what I’m addressing in this post. Don’t ever be afraid to get professional help.
How do you battle the moments of worry as a leader?
This article about leaders who worry originally appeared here.