[Today, Matt Driggers offers our second post about how to avoid or reverse leader burnout. Matt is a Groups Director at North Point Community Church—Ed.]
When we're low on energy and pinched for time, leading a group can feel like a burden. Our first impulse is to retreat. But God designed us to be in close community with other believers. Dropping out of leadership is rarely the best solution.
Your role as a leader is to help others to discover, develop, and use their gifts. This may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to avoid burnout is to pour into the people you lead. Sounds exhausting, right? But it can actually recharge your passion for leading. That's because when everyone in your group operates from his or her core competencies, everyone in your group benefits . . . including you.
So here are three practical tips to help you encourage your group members' gifts and talents:
- Make encouragement a personal habit. During the Israelites' exodus out of Egypt, Moses found himself leading a group of grumblers. His people complained about their circumstances, while ignoring everything God had done for them. Sometimes you might feel like your group members do the same thing . . . on a much smaller scale, of course. Remember this: your group is made up of God’s workmanship. Every member of your group is made in his image. Look for the gifts and talents he's given them.
- Make encouragement noisy. When you see gifts and talents in your group members, don't keep it to yourself. Point them out to the whole group. If someone in your group has enormous compassion and empathy, in-depth knowledge about a specific subject, wisdom and insight, or discernment, say so. Maybe he or she wasn't even aware of that gift. Your pointing it out could be a major turning point in that person's life. Other members of the group may also benefit as they begin to lean into that person's strength.
- Make encouragement viral. If you make a habit of identifying and encouraging others' strengths in front of the entire group, it'll catch on. Encouragement is a group effort. Remind your group that, in addition to sharing struggles, community is about encouraging one another to grow. In his book, Making Small Groups Work, Henry Cloud suggests that leaders tell their group members, “As we get to know each other, we will notice not only one another’s struggles, but also each other’s talents. When you see one, mention it to the group, as someone may not even be aware she has that strength.”
When you encourage your group members to know and use their gifts and talents, your group will begin to pick up a self-sustaining momentum that strengthens the bonds between members and eases many of the challenges of leadership. And then you can really enjoy leading.