How are you doing today? To say the least, you have been through a lot this year. I don’t need to rehash all the events that have changed your ways of living over the past several months, I know that each of us has struggled in our own ways. Whether it has been with the changes in worship, gathering in groups, learning new technology, caring for family while balancing work, illness, anxiety, depression, or any number of other changes, we have each had our challenges.
Today, I want us to shift our perspective.
Because we use so much of our brain space worrying about what is coming next, grieving over what once was, and struggling with anxiety in the present, we often forget how much we have accomplished. Whether family, friends, neighbors, church members, you have had a tremendous impact upon the people entrusted to you. Even when it didn’t feel like you were making a difference, you were successfully navigating some huge obstacles.
So, give me a few minutes of your time today. If you are willing, I want you to stop and focus upon yourself. You have given much of yourself, as well as time, looking after and caring for others. Now it is time for a little self-care.
Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
Think about something you have accomplished over the past seven months? Take a deep breath and be honest with yourself.
Feels good doesn’t it? What challenges did you have to overcome? What have you learned that can be used in the future or is helpful now?
It is okay to feel good about it. You have made some substantial accomplishments, but it doesn’t have to be anything big. Just think about what you have done. Did you learn to cook something you haven’t cooked before, start a new exercise routine, or take up water coloring? Maybe it was keeping your children fed and clothed as you navigated the chaos of becoming an at-home teacher. When you set boundaries, either with work or in your personal life, you accomplished something significant.
So be kind to yourself and take notice of some of the small things you have accomplished, because when you build on those things, you can put your life and leadership into perspective. Some days it is easy to forget just how strong and impactful you have been.
What Does Love Look Like?
Are you willing to give me a few more minutes? If you are, consider these things:
Reflect upon times when you experienced love over the past seven months. When were you vulnerable and empathetic? Where did you take people seriously, even when you felt it was difficult to do? When did you listen to and make a place for people with whom you disagree? Whether it was with family, friends, church members, or strangers, where did you provide a caring and safe place for people to become who God had created them to be?
Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind. Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, “O God, thank you for loving people through me and thank you for loving me through those same people. Amen”
Reflect on Joy
Reflect upon times when you experienced joy.
Over the past seven months, what has made you stop to remember God’s goodness and to give God thanks? What was taking place when you realized your interaction with people was a response of gratitude for God’s grace? When did you feel at one with God and the people around you?
Think about a time when you laughed so hard you cried, a time you were amazed by God’s presence, and a moment you wanted to capture and to hold. Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind.
Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, “O God, thank you for the deep joy you have planted in my heart. Help me be so joyful that the people around me experience your joy in and through me. Amen.”
Reflect upon the moments you experienced generosity.
When did you give someone the benefit of your doubt? When did you show God’s kindness and goodness to people entrusted to your care whether they deserved it or not? When did you say to yourself, “I know he is doing the best he can.” Or “How can I help her take the next step?”
Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind. Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, “O God, thank you caring for people in and through me. Help me to be open to receive your kindness and goodness through them. Amen”
Reflect upon the situations where you experienced courage.
What risks did you take? When did you have to be vulnerable? What empowered you to make decisions and lead through difficult situations? Who were the people that came alongside you to encourage you?
Get one or two of those people or moments in your mind. Now breathe deeply and whisper this prayer, “O God, thank you for giving me the strengths and skills to lead with courage. By your grace, give me the courage to assist others to live and lead courageously. Amen.”
Look at What You’ve Done!
As a leader, you have accomplished more than you have given yourself credit for accomplishing. You have been gifted to lead at this time in history. People are looking to you to be the leader they can trust, a leader of compassion, a leader who is stable, and a leader who offers genuine hope.
You can and will lead through this present crisis. At the moment, we are in the middle of a mess. But because you have taken the time to reflect upon what God has done in and through you, you are able to step and out to lead with courage and grace.
Are you still with me? Here is the last thing I’m asking you to do.
Call, text, email a trusted friend or colleague and tell them what you have accomplished. Give them the opportunity to celebrate with you. At your best, you cannot be who God created you to be alone. Remember, it is okay to feel good, so celebrate.
If you don’t have someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing, then call, text, or email me. It would be my pleasure to celebrate your accomplishments with you.
Grateful for You
I am grateful for you and your leadership. You have accomplished much. Now is the time to stop and catch your breath before stepping back into the mess.
Just remember, you will get through this by staying focused upon the God who has gifted you. Keep focused on how God has already used you to make a significant difference in the lives of the people entrusted to your care.
Don’t forget, when Sara Thomas or I can be of encouragement or help to you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sara and I are ready to assist you in becoming the leader you are created to be. Don’t hesitate to call as we seek to assist you in deepening your relationship with Christ, the church, and your community.
O God, thank you for my friends and colleagues. Thank you for the ways you have enriched my life in and through them. By your grace, embrace them through me so we can be the leaders you need us to be at this time in history. I offer them to you in the name of Jesus. Amen