From about October 1 until Christmas Eve is normally my busiest time of year. From the typical administrative parts of leading a local church (budgets, annual ministry plans, annual reports) to the busyness that is inherent in the Christmas season, it feels like a sprint for about 10 weeks or so. I’m at the end of that – after the Christmas Eve services next week, I’ll be ready to take some time off and reconnect with my family, and I’m really looking forward to that.
Leaders like to sprint. During a sprint, a lot can get accomplished! But if you try to sprint for an extended period of time, you will discover a new level of pain. Not the good kind of pain either!
There’s a place for leaders to sprint – truly. There’s a place for a season of long hours, big projects, focused times of moving the ball up the field. But if that’s the only speed at which you ever run, you’ll find that your engines were not designed to run at high RPMs for long periods of time without a break.
The end of the year is a natural time for reflection for me. I like to look back and think about the past year – what lessons did I learn? What mistakes do I not want to repeat?
Something that keeps coming up in my reflective times is the need to better control my RPMs. I like to lead from the front, and I like to run fast! I like to get things done and see projects completed. But if I’m continually running hot, with my engines going full speed, I will burn out. That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite.
Leaders, you are running a marathon. There are seasons when it’s appropriate to sprint, but you need to build in rhythms in your life where you throttle back, enjoy time off, have fun, and relax. If that’s not a normal part of your life right now, it can change! And a new year is a great time to make that change.
One of my goals for 2015 is to be more intentional about building in times of sprinting, as well as times of rest and refreshment. I want to seek out opportunities to renew and rejuvenate regularly, not just when I’m exhausted. I want to pursue times where I can be inspired and invested in by other leaders who are farther down the road than I am. I want to make sure that I’m not neglecting my family, and not neglecting my job responsibilities either. You can easily swing too far either direction and sacrifice one or the other in a bad way.
Remember – it’s not only for you that you need to lead intentionally this way. It’s also to be a good example for those you lead.
Do you find yourself sprinting too much? Do you find it easy to unplug, relax, and unwind? What changes are you making in 2015?