How To Lead When You’re Not Feeling Smart Or Brave

If we use our creative moments well, we can give ourselves plenty of productive tasks to do, even during the low-energy times.

Lately, I’ve talked with a lot of pastors who are finding it hard to feel creative and faith-filled. It’s not that they’ve given up on their church or their calling, it’s just that . . .

They’re tired.

Which means it’s hard to lead others right now.

But what do you do when you’re in a position of leadership, when you want to step up and lead, but you’re not feeling smart, brave or filled with faith?

Make A List, Then Work It

Years ago, I read a quote that has helped me in so many moments of low faith, energy and courage. I wish I could remember who wrote or said it so I could credit them. But here’s my paraphrase of it:

When I’m feeling smart and brave, I write everything down. I don’t worry about details, grammar or spelling. I just get it written down in list format. Then, when I’m not feeling smart or brave, I work the list. I edit the language. I schedule the meetings. In short, I do what I can.

When I’m not feeling smart or brave, I work on the list I wrote when I was feeling smart and brave. Click To Tweet

When I’m not feeling smart or brave, I work on the list I wrote when I was feeling smart and brave.

Leveraging Our Best Moments

In a time of crisis, my moments of faith, courage and insight are feeling fewer and fewer. So it matters more than ever that I don’t squander them.

For me, I feel at my smartest, bravest and most faith-filled in the morning. As the day moves on, I wear down.

So I use my mornings to their best advantage. I write then. I ponder, I pray, I create. As much as I can, I don’t schedule meetings for early mornings. I hold them later in the day.

As the day moves along and I feel less smart, creative and faith-filled, I don’t just give up. I work the list.

I go back and see what I wrote when I felt smarter, braver and more faith-filled, then I follow through with the necessary meetings, editing, and whatever else is needed to move those ideas forward.

Learn Your Rhythms, Then Use Them Well

We’re all in a similar place, to one degree or another.

Our moments of faith, lucidity and courage may be more rare. That makes them more valuable.

Your highs and lows won’t be the same as mine, but we all have them. And if we understand and use them well, we can leverage those fleeting, precious moments of faith, courage and creativity for the glory of God and the blessing of others.

If we use our creative moments well, we can give ourselves plenty of productive tasks to do, even during the low-energy times.

Then we can truly lead others, because we’ll be leading ourselves.


(Adapted from The Church Recovery Guide: How Your Congregation Can Adapt and Thrive After a Crisis, by Karl Vaters.)


(Photo by Christian Erfurt | Unsplash)

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