Leading From Abundance

sustainability in leadership

Cultivating Sustainability and Longevity as a Leader

Are stress and exhaustion just part of the gig? 

I used to coach ministry leaders solely in how to grow their leadership capacity and competencies. But after a few years of coaching I realized every leader I walked with was missing a crucial element; sustainability. They had mistaken a marathon for the hundred yard dash. 

Over the next few years my convictions about cultivating the health and longevity of leaders grew exponentially. Fallout, flame out and burnout stories in the news only strengthened my crystalizing hunches that our leadership paradigms were broken. Striving was killing leaders. Hustle culture was burning them out. The quest for platform was wrecking teams. Leaders who once burned for their cause were bankrupt for purpose.

Were perma-stress, burnout, moral compromise and adrenal fatigue written in the fine print of the leadership contract we had all signed? I talked to leaders terrified to be the next leadership casualty on the front page. I mined scripture looking for hope for this leadership conundrum we were in, and it was laced with timely principles. 

Workmanship before works. 

Identity before impact.  

Roots before fruits.

Who we are before what we do. 

Jesus lived 90% of his life devoid of miracles, crowds and disciples, yet his Father was pleased with him. 

We have flipped the script on leading as the Creator designed it, and we are paying the price for it. The only way forward is backward into a an upside-down paradigm of abiding.

I can’t tell you how freeing it was to flip the focus from what we do to who we are. When leaders only change their actions (the what) and transformation does not soak into the roots of their identity (the who) they appear changed only move on to the next leadership role and use, manipulate or even abuse people again. 

We set up camp at the intersection of the spiritual and the practical coaching leaders in who they are over what they do. They were experiencing deep transformation. Wives, husbands, families and friends of those I coached loved our work. Their priorities came back into focus. They received the gift of sabbath they had been resisting. Their schedules and goals changed. They could breathe again. The roots were changing and so was the fruit. 

Believe me; this is not the easy path. It’s a longer play, it’s hard work and it requires resistance. But the fruit is real. Unlike the narrow competency coaching I had done years before anything was on the coaching table for discussion.  

Jesus described a full, zestful life, yet, to many leaders abundant life is a unicorn, a fairytale we’ve read in a book but never experienced.

There is great news; the abundant life is available to us, and the pressure is off. Our identity as daughters and sons is secure. On the best of days and the worst of days. When we succeed wildly and fail miserably. When we are praised or cancelled. When the launch takes off or explodes in our face. This upside-down world is longing for right-side-up leaders. This is great news for us and those we are called to serve. 

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