5) The pain of carrying others pain.
You can only carry so much yourself; you need someone who can walk the leadership journey with you.
As a spiritual leader, you climb deep into the hurts, pain, and suffering of many.
Just last night at 12Stone Church, we experienced a powerful evening of worship and prayer. As people formed long lines to be prayed over, I was privileged to be one who prayed for many that night.
Person after person, with hurts and pains, some so heartbreaking you could feel the weight they carry.
It’s a blessing to pray for others, but if you do that alone for long, the weight can be overwhelming.
“Can you handle it when you’ve been there for everyone else, and there is no one there for you?”
Pain isn’t a popular topic, but we are wise to embrace its reality. It’s part of life and leadership.
“If we fail to see pain as only an unwelcome intruder, we’ll fail to ask the right questions, and our heartache will be wasted. Comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It makes us lazy – and forgetful. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent. Discomfort can be a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt.”
3 practices to use leadership pain as a catalyst for growth:
1) See pain as your greatest teacher.
“Don’t avoid pain. Don’t minimize it. And don’t numb yourself to it. Pain never just goes away. When it’s not resolved, it sinks deep into our minds, creates anxiety in our hearts, causes resentment, and creates tension in our relationships.”
Instead, ask God what He has in mind and how you can learn and grow through it. It’s not that we should actually seek pain, and I’m certainly not suggesting that any leader should be “happy” about it, but it can be used for good.
When you connect that with the fact that you simply cannot outrun pain, it serves you well to learn from it.
2) Let your vision drive you.
“Keep the vision fresh and strong. Don’t let your mind be consumed by your immediate pain and obvious limitations. When you interpret your pain as bigger – more important, more threatening, more comprehensive – than your vision, you’ll redefine your vision down to the threshold of your pain.”
Wow. That is so good.
When I think about all the obstacles, setbacks, and limitations we all face as leaders, it would be easy to dumb down the vision just under the level of pain.
The best athletes press through. The best scientists keep testing, the best academics press on, and keep going. As leaders, we need to do the same.
3) Have a rigorous personal development plan.
If you have a plan to grow, you’ll incorporate the difficulties, challenges, and trials life brings your way to a stronger, more capable, and more resilient leadership self.
What is your growth plan?
Do you have a mentor or coach? If that is not possible for you right now, take advantage of books and podcasts.
A good book, for example, is like sitting down with the author who invested hundreds of hours over a couple of years or more with laser focus into the subject material of the book.
Anyone can take advantage of that opportunity.
Great interview style podcasts are literally like sitting with those who have experienced a slice of life and leadership that you haven’t. Listen and learn!
Speaking of sitting down with a great mentor…
I highly recommend Dr. Chand’s book Leadership Pain: The Classroom For Growth to you. And remember, “You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.”
This article about leadership pain originally appeared here.