Today I took a few moments to reflect on—and bask in—an amazing change that has taken place in my world over the past few years.
For those of you who don’t know me well, let me start by telling you a little bit about what I do. I am the Director of Children and Family Ministries at a church of around 700 people in Western Canada. It is my responsibility to oversee all of the children’s and family programing that our church offers, to lead and train the team of 100+ volunteers that allow our programs to run, and to champion parents in their role as primary influencers in their kids’ lives.
I have been in this role for five and a half years now. For the first few years, it was all I could do to survive from week to week. The job was far too big for one person, and being the massive perfectionist that I am, I would constantly be putting in crazy overtime to ensure everything went off without a hitch.
My job was definitely a constant grind. Things were never quiet, and the pace never seemed to slow down. Just when you finished one major event and thought you might have time for a little breather, something else came up and you were suddenly on the run again. Sunday was ALWAYS coming.
When you are a highly capable perfectionist, it can be difficult to delegate. You tend to think that it’s easier and more productive to just do the work yourself. And though you wouldn’t want to admit it, you doubt that anyone else could do the job better. It was this kind of egotistical thinking that almost destroyed me. And not only that, but it limited the potential of our kids programs to what I could accomplish on my own—which was not enough!
It wasn’t until I began to learn the value of letting others in, that I started to truly thrive in and enjoy my career in church ministry. Several years ago I started on a journey to empower volunteers to own their passions and to truly blossom as leaders. Where I had previously viewed asking for help as a sign of weakness and a burden to others, I started to see it as a gift that I was offering to another person—an opportunity to be a part of something bigger, something meaningful. And it saved my life.
This past fall, I experienced the worst period of “burnout” I have ever faced. Exhausted after a physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining summer out at camp, and shattered by a traumatic experience (that I am not able to talk about because of others involved), I crashed hard at the end of August. I retreated into myself, and I started to shut the rest of the world out. Showing up at work every day was gruelling, to say the least, and once again I was finding myself struggling through every week in survival mode.
But, to my great relief, our kids program did not fall apart. It didn’t even regress. It continued to thrive. And I will tell you that this was NOT on account of me. It was on account of the AMAZING volunteers who had come alongside me in recent years to carry some of the weight of leadership. I could not have survived this past fall, nor could I have even begun the process of recovering from this past fall, if I’d had to do it alone.
This Tuesday I returned to work after a week away for a funeral. While it was not a pleasant reason to be off for a week, I was so blessed by the fact that I could disappear without much notice and trust that everything would run as smoothly as if I had been there to direct it myself. To me, this was a true gift—a real weight lifted.
What a perfect reminder that we are simply not designed to do life alone. If you are in a position of leadership, and you find yourself buckling under the weight of it all, I want to urge you today to consider how you might allow someone else to share some of the load. Or, just in general, if you are carrying heavy burdens around with you everywhere you go, please let someone in. Accept their help. Let go of the pride that says you can do it better yourself, and empower someone else to use their gifts and abilities to make your life better.
Learning to do this was a massive upgrade for my life, both professionally and personally. It was the best gift I have ever given myself. And for it, I will be endlessly grateful!
Do you struggle to let others help you? Do you tend to carry the weight of your burdens alone? Start letting others in by opening up today. Leave me a comment below and let me know how you are going to upgrade your life by letting someone lighten your load!