When You're Tired of Leading
May 19, 2004
Personal and leadership frustrations are intertwined. The pressure comes from several directions: our insecurities, our children, our spouse, the church board. But who we are as a person ties it all together.
— Leith Anderson
Preaching that Sunday was the last thing I wanted to do.
The church where I'd been serving as a part-time associate had indicated they would put me on staff full time. A few days after my seminary graduation, however, I was terminated. The congregation held a business meeting and voted me out.
I was devastated. Charleen, my wife, and I were so anticipating seminary's end and full-time ministry. We also needed the income. Without a job, the short-term financial picture looked bleak.
The senior pastor went on vacation, and I was scheduled to speak the following Sunday, four days after receiving my pink slip. Since it was too late in the week to recruit a pinch hitter, the congregation asked me to fill in for the vacationing minister.
So I did, despite the awkwardness of the situation. I recognized I couldn't walk into the pulpit that Sunday morning spewing frustration at the congregation. Nor could I, in good conscience, refuse to speak. I felt that preaching God's Word in that situation was the right thing to do.
This was a painful lesson in doing the right thing, despite my mood at the time. Pastors, at least in that sense, are professionals. God's people have a right to competent leadership, even when we're feeling tired, angry, frustrated, or lonely. Knowing this doesn't make leading easy at such times, but it's the first principle, of many, that has helped me lead when I haven't felt like it.
How I happen to feel at any given moment is not a good indication of fatigue level. Sometimes ...