Commentary by Pastor Mike Colaw
A few months ago, one of my board members and a gentleman I truly respect approached me about burn out. A great heart coupled with years of leadership experience led him to encourage me to take a sabbatical. I reluctantly agreed.
I decided to put the brakes on before something in me, my family or the ministry broke. After spending a few days looking closely at my life outside of my job, I committed to focus on three areas:
1) Emotional — I committed to go to a counselor.
2) Financial — Make sure my personal finances are in good shape, including a will.
3) Family — I committed to take true, focused time away with my family. No emails, no phone meetings, no partial presence. I had to be all in, ending with a coming-of-age trip with my son who is just about to turn 13.
Three powerful mindsets hit me throughout the process:
First: Insecure leaders are dangerous, and all of us have an inclination towards insecurity and a desire for control. The pursuit of power driven by insecurity will lead to one of two places — total burn out and/or a tyrant. To lead well and long, one must find sound identity that stands independent of successes or failures.
Second: I know I am not great, and I don’t need to be. Oh, how beautiful it is to have a mind quieted from the desire to keep up with or surpass my peers. I am a better leader when it isn’t power I pursue, but the empowering of others. Instead of focusing on what God hasn’t placed within my realm of influence, I choose to be as faithful as possible with what he has.
Three: I choose to pursue my spiritual life first. My identity is in what Christ has done, not what I have done or wish I could do. Since my identity is already set, I can take my eyes off of what I don’t have or can’t do well and place my gaze on what God has placed before me. Because of this, I can love my wife, my children, the amazing church I get to work in and this community to the best of my ability with a heart that can be satisfied in this work. I replace jealousy with contentment, power with empowerment and self-made identity with Christ-given identity.