As a leader, you love to fix problems and advance a cause. You see the importance of men growing as disciples of Jesus and want to do your part to help it happen. But what should you do when things do not go your way? How do you deal with the moments of disappointment and frustration that always come with leadership?
Some reading this article have been serving and leading throughout COVID. You have been so busy trying to help others that you have not yet had time to pause and consider what you have lost during this season. A high percentage of men are not returning to your church (or quite often any church). You have had to navigate the wide range of emotions men have had and have not taken the space to consider the range of emotions you have. These issues do not even begin to address the other losses you have experienced, including lost time with family and friends because of lockdowns.
It would be easy to shrug your shoulders and say that disappointment and frustration are part of leadership. The temptation is to ignore the emotions and move ahead with the challenge in front of you. This response would be a great idea if it weren’t for one minor issue – you are human. Failing to address your disappointments and frustrations will provide your mind, body, and soul with the building blocks of a perfect storm. One day, it will catch up with you.
I understand the temptation to move on, but I have had to learn (the hard way) the importance of dealing with those emotions. Here are a few steps you can take to deal with your disappointments and frustrations as a leader.
Guard Your Mind
It is natural (and healthy for those you are leading) if your first response to disappointment and frustration is to examine where you dropped the ball as a leader. After all, many frustrations are of our own making. But once you have done this, guard where your mind goes. Someone once taught me that effective leadership requires combining you as a leader in the right circumstances with a group of people willing to follow. That’s a lot of moving parts, and not all of what goes wrong is on your shoulders.
Turn to God
Because you are human, one of your great temptations will be to find ways to medicate your disappointments. Men will do this in some less harmful ways like working longer, playing excessive amounts of video games, or whatever other hobby you have. Men also tend to medicate themselves in ways that will bring a lot of damage – including watching porn or drinking more and more alcohol. Either way, medicating yourself will never heal what is going on. You have to be intentional to turn to God.
Learn to Lament
Lament is one of God’s great gifts to humanity. Mark Vroegop authored a book called “Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy.” He goes through extensive teaching about lament and defines it as: “Prayer in pain that leads to trust.”
I have found lament to be a profound invitation to be blunt with God in expressing my frustrations. This type of prayer will lead you to ask God deep questions you never imagined would be appropriate to ask God, and then allows His Spirit to bring you towards a place of hope because of the promises God gives to you.
Every leader should know how to lament and regularly use it to deal with disappointment and frustrations.
Caring For Your Body
The natural tendency of many men is to fix the problem when we see it. A “fix it” response is OK to a certain degree because it is part of how God has wired you. But it is so essential for every leader to remember that our body is the Holy Spirit’s temple. We have a need and a responsibility to care for ourselves when we face disappointments and frustrations. Helping your soul to heal will help you be a better leader for others in the future.