In our free ebook, Start With You, I discuss how easy it is for church leaders to make excuses when it comes to their overall health. And the only reason I even think about wagging my finger at church leaders is because I was once an accomplished excuse-maker (which means I accomplished very little).
I can still make excuses with the best of them, but I’d like to believe I’m more aware of the fact that I’m making excuses.
That said, as church leaders we tend to make three typical excuses when we choose to not ask for help:
1. “I don’t have the time.”
I bet that 99 percent of church leaders reading this post can legitimately use this excuse. Running from staff meeting to prayer gathering to worship service and all points in between, your time likely is very limited.
But the solution to being so busy that burnout is just around the corner from your next meeting isn’t to stick your head in the sand and pretend your hectic schedule isn’t taking a serious toll on your health.
To seek help, you must make time for it. Seeing a counselor, unloading to a trusted friend, or simply taking time to be with your spouse are necessary for your overall health—but none of those events will happen unless you put them on your calendar as non-negotiable events you must attend at all costs.
2. “What will my people think?”
“My people” can mean your staff, your church, your family, and your friends. For too many reasons outside the scope of this post, many church leaders tend to believe that seeking help may be a sign of weakness (despite Jesus’s words to the contrary in 2 Corinthians 12:9).
But in addition to teaching others how to live in light of Christ’s life and teachings, shouldn’t we also model such a life?
Asking for help—and being willing to be seen asking for help—takes more courage than just “getting through it.”
And if I had to guess, I’m willing to bet most of your people will respect and admire you for choosing health.
3. “I don’t want to change.”
I don’t think this is a spoken excuse. Rather, it’s deeply hidden. It may not even be apparent to the church leader who needs help.
Sometimes church leaders are also counselors, so they know how much hard, interior work a person must endure in order to see real change occur in their own lives. After witnessing that, the same church leader may not want to go through such a process. Maybe they think, “I’m not where I necessarily want to be, but I’m not sure I can make the necessary sacrifices right now to get there.” So they put off seeking help because, deep down, they really don’t want to change.
Plus, it’s comparably easier to change someone else than to allow yourself to be changed. Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Say that four-letter word—help—then list your excuses, then get over those excuses and seek real help.
As church leaders responsible for changing the world, let’s serve our families, our staffs, and our congregations the best we can by doing the hard work of changing ourselves first.