Our ministry values both results and personal growth. That means we coach our staff, volunteers, and students to strategy (the work of the ministry), and we shepherd them (focusing on their hearts). Sometimes, it might seem like those perspectives are in conflict.
We are in a very full season at this time of the ministry year. We want to connect with as many students as possible and involve them in various ministry activities. We know the value of those outreaches, studies, and places where students become connected to a community of faith. But of necessity, that means we are busy, often stretched, and sometimes just flat out exhausted.
Several years ago, a team I was part of did some comprehensive work on both coaching to strategy and coaching to shepherd. I’d like to share some of the work done for an unpublished article about coaching to shepherd. They identified some common and predictable emotions, possible root issues, and potential helps at any given point throughout the year.
Here in late September, the typical emotions identified are:
- Emotional roller coaster that goes along with the results of the first six weeks (these weeks set the tone for the rest of the year, making results seem more important than relationships).
- Lack of margin. A thinness in connection with the Lord.
- Fatigue/Exhaustion. Have I been shot out of a cannon? Can I keep up this pace?
- Adrenaline letdown. Can enter a funk. Real rest is needed.
- Do I have a life? How is my relationship with my spouse, etc.? A proper downshift may be needed and how do I do that?
- May stop depending on the Lord and enter into default mode.
- Is this worth it?
Possible roots of those emotions
- Not lifting their eyes (team’s eyes) up and cultivating an accurate view of God.
- Lack of true dependency. It’s entirely up to me mindset. Self effort.
- Not walking in the power of the Spirit. Instead, trusting my own gifts, performance, and strengths.
- Substituting “vegging” in the place of authentic rest in God. Not getting time alone with God.
- Owning that I have perhaps ignored myself, my family, etc.
- My identity is in ministry success. Over personalization of results defining them.
- Short-term mindset. Comparison and frustration with results.
- Schedule a day with the Lord for your team.
- Take time to pause, reflect, celebrate, and lift up eyes to the Lord.
- Reminder of vision and the why of what we are doing.
- Focus on leaving margin for high level priorities on their Position Focus.
- Here is a talk by Ryan Williams on Shepherding Your Team.
- Here is a document by Dr. Mark McCloskey on Emotional Well-being and Leading.
Noted inventor, Charles Kettering, said “a problem well-stated is half-solved.” If you can identify what is happening emotionally and the root causes, you are on your way to addressing what’s happening.