I remember sitting at my desk, staring at the computer screen with my email pulled up. I was about to reply to another set of “urgent” messages, but the cursor just kept blinking.
My head was swimming, and my chest felt tight. I felt like I could puke or pass out or both.
I literally could not move. Sitting next to my computer was a notepad where I’d jotted down the things I needed to get done that day. It was 4pm and I’d not even gotten half-way done. I knew my wife was waiting at home with a two-year old and an infant, needing me to be done for the day. I also knew that my to-do list needed to be finished yesterday to stay on-time and on-target.
And here I was, sitting at my desk, doing… nothing.
I was stuck.
Have you ever experienced a season of ministry like this? The to-do list is growing, the tasks seem insurmountable, the pressure to be a rockstar spouse and parent is intense, and it just feels… hopeless. In fact, get stuck long enough in a season like this and you’ll transition from being stressed out to being totally unhealthy.
Here are three indicators your leadership health may be in trouble:
You don’t “have time” for your spiritual development.
Whenever your schedule and to-do list have gotten so out-of-control that you cannot take regular time for prayer and reading the Word, it’s time to press pause. There is nothing more important–especially as a leader–than for you to be investing in your relationship with Jesus. Yes, you should be able to use “work time” to work on your relationship with the Lord. Cut something, make it a priority.
Your family resents your ministry.
Ministry done well is great for families. Ministry is a hard calling, but it has some distinct advantages. A more flexible schedule allows you to be available for ball games, doctor appointments, and field trips. Certainly, there are nights away, busy seasons, and hectic schedules around Christmas and Easter. In the end, though, it should feel like a pretty even trade. When it doesn’t, and your family is beginning to resent your ministry, this is a signal that it’s time to evaluate your leadership. Don’t assume it’s “their problem” and that they simply aren’t “flexible” or “understanding” enough. Chances are, if your spouse or kids are resenting your ministry, your leadership health is at risk.
You feel alone.
Many times, leaders feel like they’re the only ones who can do a task, lead a project, or preach a sermon. This is not a sign of leadership health. This is a sign of narcissistic leadership–one of the key side-effects of unhealthy leadership. I’ve seen this in myself in my most unhealthy seasons of leadership. When a big project comes along, you say, “I would delegate this, but no one else can do it like I can.” It may be true that others wouldn’t do it the same way you would, but that’s a far cry from someone else not being able to do it. Yet this isn’t the only way leaders feel alone. Leaders feel lonely because they don’t feel like they can share their frustrations without repercussions. Leaders feel lonely because they don’t have trustworthy relationships. Leaders feel alone because they lack outside friendships or internal accountability. If you feel alone, your leadership health might be at risk.
Your leadership health matters. You cannot make your greatest gospel impact if your leadership health is in jeopardy.
For this reason, I’ve developed a simple ten-question quiz that will quickly determine your leadership health.