5 Rhythms Every Healthy Leader NeedsBy Garrett Higbee
June 30, 2020
Can I bust a myth right now? There’s no such thing as ministry and home balance. All those balls you’re juggling, all the plates you’re spinning, just let them fall to floor. Instead of seeking the perfect balance, find the right rhythms for your life. We all have some rhythms, but some are healthy while others are unhealthy. You need to identify them and adjust them biblically.
Trying to find a mythical balance will be exhausting, but establishing needed rhythms sets a pattern for success for the rest of your life.
Here are five rhythms you should cultivate in your life and ministry.
1. Ongoing spiritual development
You are a person before you’re a pastor, you’re a sheep before you’re a shepherd. Because of this, spiritual development is the most important rhythm and indicator of your health. You must engage in spiritual development daily, intentionally, and deeply.
Remember the principle of “in before through.” Christ in you before Christ through you. If He is not in you—if you haven’t been abiding, if you’re not spending time in the Word for your personal nourishment—He can’t flow through you as He’d like.
Rarely do we lay our heads down at night and realize we forgot to eat a meal that day. But so often church leaders can spend their day pouring out to everyone else while starving their own soul. Before long, you become a spiritual anorexic.
Are you dry? Are you weary? It’s because God’s been calling you and you’ve been running past Him, saying, “Just a minute, I’ve got more to do.” He’s saying, “Come here. I want to give you rest. And I’m the only place you’re going to get it.”
2. Self-care with healthy boundaries
Don’t see self-care as selfishness, see it as stewardship. You can run a sprint right now or you can run a marathon for decades. Self-care helps you run a ministry marathon instead of burning out. It’s about sustainability that allows for succession.
Develop rhythms of self-care that occur regularly like exercise, reading a good book, time away from your phone, and time with family. You should also have rhythms that occur daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, and every five to 10 years.
Daily, you should be in God’s Word with meditation and prayer. Weekly, go deeper in Scripture, and intentional spiritual time with your spouse. Once a month, you may just need to take a day away. Quarterly, take a long weekend with your spouse. Yearly, develop a specific spiritual emphasis week in your home. Every few years, you may need to take an extended sabbatical.
These regular intervals allow you to reflect and ask God to reveal where your practiced priorities aren’t in line with your professed values.
3. Family and personal life stewardship
Are you consistent in the way you behave at home and in public? You don’t want to be a hypocrite whose family wishes you were as good a shepherd at home as you are at church.
But if your family ever tells you that, don’t get defensive. Ask yourself where your spoken theology has gotten out ahead of your lived theology. Ask your family to forgive you and help you do better.
Blend your family and ministry in a way that your family enjoys doing ministry with you. That doesn’t mean they’re forced to do everything, but it means they see the joys of ministry and want to share that with you.
While much of this mainly applies to married church leaders, if you’re single find someone who can encourage you in ministry. Share what’s going on in your life and listen while they do the same. You still need deep relationships.
4. Emotional and cultural intelligence
Often times people speak about a leader’s IQ, but how have you been developing your EQ and CQ—your emotional quotient and cultural quotient? Leaders should be constantly growing in emotional and cultural intelligence.
It’s been said often, but it’s true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Emotional intelligence is recognizing this and working to know people better. Cultural intelligence is being aware of what’s going on around you.
Grow in your self-awareness, learn to read people and situations better, pray for more compassion and more discernment.
Regardless of your starting point, you can grow in this area. You may think you have the emotionally or cultural intelligent of a rock. If that’s the case, at least you are humble enough to recognize it. Find someone who can coach you in it.
5. Leadership and management skills
Leadership competence doesn’t just happen. We have to work to gain skills in both leadership and management, or at the very least recognize the areas where we are weakest.
Some of us can lead, but we don’t manage people very well. Some of us manage people well, but we struggle to develop a vision and lead. That’s OK. There are very few of us who are the full package. Surround yourself with people who can compensate for your weaknesses.
But as you’re doing that, continue to strive for growth in both areas. I don’t have to be the best manager, but I have to know at least enough about management to know a good manager when I see one.
As you acquire skills, make sure you are growing as a servant leader. We need shepherds, not cowboys. Gain leadership and management skills, but only as they line up with Scripture. We should not tolerate spiritual abuse in the church. As you seek to develop as a leader, remember you need an intentional and biblical path to follow. That may involve finding a coach and meeting with them regularly. But at the very least, it requires a plan to weave these rhythms throughout your life.