A leader’s performance is continually on the line and on display. There is pressure from above, and from below. Boards, bosses, employees, customers, congregations…they all have expectations, all the time. It’s a heavy weight to carry, and the more leadership responsibility you have, the heavier it gets. It’s exhausting, which is why leaders need rest. Actually, leaders need more than rest, sometimes they need to escape—at least I do.
The following excerpt (revised) is from my book, 16 Stones.
ESCAPE: I have found, at least for me, fully restorative rest only comes with escape. My body, soul, and spirit all need occasional escape from the everyday world. For years, my escape has been either the North Georgia mountains or the coast of Downeast Maine—a week of nothing but coffee, a good book or two, eating catfish or lobster, and listening to the creek or watching the waves. There is no doubt in my mind that without escape, the stress of running a large company and later serving a large church would have produced burn-out or worse in my ability to lead.From 16 Stones
One mistake leaders make is equating different with escape. Let me clarify. Taking your office to a different place is not escape. An open briefcase and ringing cell phone at the beach is different, but it is not escape. Senior pastor, you can round up a couple of pastor buddies, play eighteen holes and then have dinner, all the while talking about your church problems. That is different, but it’s not escape. Business leader, you can take your team to an offsite leadership conference to be inspired and challenged. That is different and worthwhile, but it is not escape. Escape is leaving it all behind, emptying your mind of your ordinary work as Exodus 20:9 calls it, and letting God repair and refresh you from head to foot. In my own experience, I have found that I can get physical rest in a couple of days; however, mental and emotional rest usually takes a week or more.
You need to escape, but who you escape with is also important. My wife, Dottie, is wired much like I am. She doesn’t need to be entertained; she doesn’t need to be sightseeing all the time; she doesn’t need to be talking all the time. A day of nothing but sitting on the porch with a good book or working a puzzle is fine with her. She is a great escape partner. Once a year, I spend a couple of days alone, intensely seeking God, but most of the time I escape with her. My point is, choose your escape partner carefully. Remember, the purpose of escape is to detox from the stresses of your ordinary life, not just drag them to a different place.
By the way, Dottie and I are off to Maine in a couple of days. Two weeks of escape!
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© Copyright 2021 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company.
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner