“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.” ~ Carl Sandburg
Your leadership responsibilities bring with them the risk of burnout. The constant stream of problems to solve and resources to stretch can be draining and exhausting. The formula is quite simple: If more energy is expended than is renewed, strength is depleted. When you experience seasons where you feel worn down, overstretched or overwhelmed, be encouraged by these words of Isaiah:
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 4:29-31 NLT)
Dependence on the Lord is key to staying strong, not in our own strength but in His. Many leaders fall into the trap of trying to “make things happen”. I know this trap very well from my own failures in this area. Much of this tendency can be attributed to personality and temperament types. The driven leader can create burnout scenarios not only for themselves but for everyone on their team.
Note that Isaiah says “even youths will become weak and tired”. Burnout is for everyone! If you don’t plan to regularly “renew your strength”, you are likely putting yourself at risk for burnout. No one is exempt. Leadership responsibility tends to be draining because the toughest problems and challenges always rise to the top.
As a Christian leader, you must learn the discipline of saying “no”. Find other leaders who understand this need for creating margin and hold each other accountable. Quiet time and prayer are essential in renewing your strength in the Lord. It takes humility to admit we can’t do it all in our own strength. Remember, pride comes before a fall. We must learn to humbly acknowledge our own weakness and admit our need for God to strengthen us. Admitting your need for His strength is the first step to renewing your strength.
The imagery of a soaring eagle is inspiring. I love visiting Alaska. There you can watch eagles soar overhead with great majesty and little effort. The eagles glide on outstretched wings lifted by the wind currents and propelled by simple maneuvers that allow them to dip and rise with ease. Isaiah says we can soar like that too! We just need to rely on the strength of the Lord to lift us and propel us. In short, we need to stop flapping and start soaring.
Be thoughtful today about relying on the Lord’s strength. Admit you need His strength and then simply ask Him to lift you to new heights today. Soaring leaders are an inspiration to others because they represent the majesty of God’s strength in their lives and leadership.