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Thoughts on Leadership

Burnout, The Second Time

"I feel like all I do is go to meetings about things I am really not passionate about." Burnout, The Second Time | Hooper Leadership CoachingThis is what I wrote in my journal the second time I was in the middle of burnout.

At the time, I was on the Executive Leadership Team and functioned as the Division Head over seven department heads with a total of 45 staff.  There were about 5000 members in the church at the time.

Our team was responsible for worship, membership, children, junior high, senior high, young professionals, and pastoral care.  For a season, I supervised the headmaster of the 500 student elementary school.

In order to accelerate my learning in the new job, I attended almost all the functions which those 7 departments sponsored.  Reading the very helpful book, “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins, made me a net contributor to the organization in three months.

In order to build the team, I was encouraged to release some employees. This is never fun for them or for the supervisor.  This not only took an emotional toll on the organization but also on me.

My days were filled with meetings.  We had meetings about meetings about meetings!  Sometimes I would wake up at night having the nightmare that I was in a meeting that never ended!

I continued to do things which I enjoyed, was gifted in and was good at even though these activities were not formally part of my job.

I was an Executive, and that was my job.

I also was a Pastor and wanted to teach, disciple men and develop leaders.

Slowly my executive day job and my calling began to compete with each other.  I began to resent having to attend and lead so many management oriented meetings and dealing with the challenges of getting things done in a large organization.

I began dreaming of living at the beach in a small and simple beach house. Meetings would be officially outlawed in my dream world!

My wife was fed up with me being emotionally distant from her.

My health took a back seat until things calmed down, which they never do.

I was seriously thinking about going back into business because pastoral ministry was just too hard.

I really wondered if I should check into the mental hospital because I thought my sanity was slowing turning to mush.

This all seemed like déjà vu from the first time I went through burnout. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Now that I look back, there are some factors which caused this second round of burnout.

  • Large responsibility to supervise many people.
  • Being a slave to ineffective
  • Spending the majority of the time doing things outside my calling.
  • Feeling the expectation to attend all functions of the organization.
  • Making major staffing changes in the organization which brought on emotional shrapnel.
  • Not practicing self-care with diet and exercise.
  • Unrealistic expectations of what leadership is and does.

I began the burnout recovery process again and made it through with more leadership battle scars.

Now I live and work from a place of focus in my calling, balance with my time use and true joy in the One who has the whole world in His hands!

Think about it: What concerns you about where you are in your leadership stress level? 

BurnoutCharles Hooper, Jr.