I recall a number of years ago that I heard a speaker from another part of the country say that most of the people he knew were overwhelmed and over-committed. Things haven’t changed much in the ensuing years. Many leaders feel like they are lying on a beach with wave after wave hitting them in the face as they are trying to catch their breath. Ron Edmondson shares some solid advice for those of us who are feeling overwhelmed a lot of the time.
Guest Post by Ron Edmondson
As a leader, there have been times I was overwhelmed with the challenges and opportunities facing me. God seems to call me to huge tasks.
I suspect if you’re a leader, you understand. I think He does that to many people! It keeps us humble. And dependent — on Him!
Regardless of how comfortable a leader may be in his or her position.
- There are times when the leader has no answers.
- He or she has exhausted every bit of knowledge gained.
- The current strategies don’t seem to work anymore.
- The situation is beyond the current plans and systems.
- People are complaining.
- Expectations upon you are greater than you feel you have capacity to deliver.
- It seems you’re on a treadmill — getting no where.
- Some days you leave thinking you accomplished nothing — maybe even most days.
- You are so overwhelmed you don’t know what to attempt first.
Ever been there? Did you think someone was talking to me about you?
When the leader doesn’t know what to do and/or doesn’t have a clue what to do next, here are some suggestions:
The first step is to be honest with where you are currently as a leader. Pretending to know the answers when you don’t know them will not solve the problem. Most of the time, the people you are leading already know your inadequacies. Come clean. You’re overwhelmed. No shame. All of us have been there at times.
It’s okay to take a break to clear your head. It could be an afternoon, a day, or a week, but sometimes you just need to get away from the situation long enough to gain a fresh perspective. I often disappear from the office in the afternoons on especially difficult weeks. I may take a long walk, mow my grass, cook something special for dinner, pray or read. The busier the season — the more overwhelmed I feel — the more I need to pause. I know it sounds counter-productive. It’s not. Actually, it’s life-giving.
Find a mentor who has walked where you are currently walking. I have several older men I call when I’m maxed out with stress. There is a benefit in surrounding yourself with people smarter than you about a matter. This is the time for the believer to rely more than ever on his or her faith; trusting that the God who called them to the task will be faithful to complete it. (1 Thess 5:24)
Leaders should always be teachable. Again, assuming or pretending to have all the answers only slows or curtails projects and is quickly be discovered by others. Stretch yourself and learn something new. Read. Definitely be reading. Attend a conference. Listen to some TED talks or sermons from pastors you admire. Feed your mind. It needs some new energies.
Make better checklists each day. Spend more time planning. Learn to better delegate. I always say, you have to get better before you can get bigger. As you learn improvements needed, be willing to change. The tighter you hold onto methods that aren’t working the longer you’ll delay moving forward. Push through the overwhelming period and become a stronger, more capable and better leader. You can do it!