Written by Christie Love, Founder/Executive Director of LeadHer (Connect with Christie on Facebook or Twitter)

I have seen it happen too many times… leaders who were once full of passion and fire to make a difference, chase a goal, or reach a milestone suddenly stop short. They hit a wall.  They run out of energy. They burnout.

burnt match

In my leadership experience, I have discovered three main reasons that people normally burn out. I have seen all three of these issues impact both men and women, new and veteran leaders, and leaders both inside and outside of the church. In short… Burnout does not discriminate with its victims; therefore every leader needs to be aware of the struggle and on guard to protect against it. My goal in this post is to share with you what I have seen contribute to burn out in a wide variety of leaders and help you guard against it in your life by taking action steps to protect yourself.

1.  Lack of balance:

I have had to learn this difficult leadership and life lesson:  You can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before you run out of candle to burn.

God has really been at work on my heart and mind in this area over the last two years. He has taught me that time spent achieving balance in my life is not time wasted but rather time invested in making me a better leader overall.  My time at the gym is not time that I am not spending working… it is time I spend praying, listening, dreaming, and keeping my body and energy is shape to do all that God has called me to do.   Time spent sleeping is not wasted it is recharging my batteries for the next busy day. Time spent with my family and my husband is not negotiable because they keep me humble and honest about what I am doing and how I am doing it.  We cannot sacrifice our children, our marriage, or other key relationships in our life in the pursuit of our goals and dreams. 

Leaders- if you struggle in this area like I do then I challenge you to sit down and evaluate the way that you are spending your time. Make sure that you have created time zones for ALL areas of your life.  Earlier this year I did a message on this topic at NorthBridge Church where I am part of the teaching team. It was a New Year’s message that if this is an area that you struggle then I encourage you to invest some time into watching  and applying the concepts in your life.

2. Lack of support:

No matter how much strength you have when you start out chasing a goal… there are going to be moments where you grow tired, frustrated, or weary. There are going to be uphill seasons where you want to wave the white flag and give up. You will be tempted to seek an easier road or find a shortcut to get to where you want to go faster. If you do not have support people that believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it then those seasons become very difficult.  More leaders burnout in the tough times then the good times- so it is important to have people that are willing to walk with you through both seasons. 

Leaders MUST be intentional about cultivating support relationships in their life. You need to surround yourself with truth tellers, motivators, encouragement givers, and relational reminders. These are the people that will push you forward when times get hard, they will pray with you when the road seems long, and they will offer to help you make your goal a reality. If you do not have these people in your life…don’t wait for them to find you- you need to seek them out. Seek out people that you respect- tell them your vision- ask them to give their insights, perspectives, suggestions, and guidance.  Connections with people who believe in you can help refuel your passion and your commitment to the vision you are pursuing.

3. Lack of direction

The fastest way to burn out a leader is to prevent them from leading.  Leaders want to lead… when they find themselves in a situation where their gifts, talents, and passions are not being used to their fullest they can easily get burnt out. Stifling or micromanaging a leader can burn them out quickly.  The best way to keep people from burning out is helping to fuel the fire and give it direction and purpose.  This is one of a leaders biggest jobs- protecting the fire of passion and commitment among your team members.  If you have a person that is willing to roll up their sleeves to help advance your vision then you need to find a place to best use their gifts and abilities or it will not be long before they start looking for another place to contribute. A leader’s passion and commitment is renewed by making a difference so you need to find a way to plug them or you run the risk of burning them out. 

We would love to hear from you- Which one of these three has caused you to deal with leadership burnout?