when leaders hurt...
Life happens. Sometimes we forget that in the ministry. We forget that our volunteers have personal lives. Until those personal lives create moments of stress. Often times it's through no fault of their own, but their personal lives can compromise their ability to carry out their ministry obligations. These can be dangerous moments. It is not unusual that people who are stressed and stretched will:
- Feel guilty
- Push themselves to exhaustion in order to not disappoint others
- Take shortcuts to get things done quicker
- Sometimes just drop out altogether out of shame
- Become short-tempered, impatient, demanding, and feel justified
- Take the path of least resistance
When multiple leaders experience some kind of stress at the same time, it can be a really rocky period for a church, especially if there isn't an understood plan in place for what to do. Beyond offering the simple care-giving that is needed, the congregation has a chance to be the body of Christ for those who are suffering. To do the best job, the congregation should have a value system in place that is clearly communicated to those frazzled leaders. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep procedures and policies in place and follow them
- Have initiatives prioritized so that it is easy to see what gets canceled or postponed
- Have leadership "partnered" where possible so that if one person is sidelined for a while, there is someone who knows what needs to get done that can take over
- Give permission for people to take the time they need (Church too easily makes people feel guilty)
- Stress during these times that the Church is a body in the real sense. When one part (or more) suffers, other parts compensate until healing and restoration is done.
- Divide up necessary things with others until people return to "normal"
Surprisingly, creatively managing these times when leaders hurt in a cluster can actually strengthen and renew a church's sense of call, fellowship and presence of God.