She walked onto the main stage and into the bright spotlight. The past months had brought her more than her fair share of harsh criticism, critique and questions over the decisions she had made. Now a sea of women were waiting to hear what she had to say. She looked brave and confident on stage, but I wondered how she felt on the inside. How much prayer, personal growth and perseverance went into that entrance and this moment? Was it a lonely place to be?
Leadership puts us in the spotlight and often highlights our insecurities and feelings. One of the most common feelings a leader faces is loneliness. It may seem strange linking loneliness to leadership, especially since the role of a leader involves connection to others. But the pressure we place on ourselves and the scrutiny that others place on us can separate us into a mindset where we feel alone.
Loneliness can show up in our leadership as a lack of joy, exhaustion, stress and hopelessness. As leaders, we must learn to recognize these signs before our feelings lead us into a place of isolation and separation. When we feel lonely, there are several things we can do.
Share it with our Jesus. Only Jesus can give us the security we hope for. We can ask God to redeem our feelings of isolation into places of solitude and silence. Doing this takes the focus off our loneliness and refocuses it on Jesus’ presence and power. Silence and solitude with God strengthen and equip us for the things to come and bring us to new places in our confidence in leadership.
Secure a support system. Every good leader needs support and encouragement from other leaders who can empathize with the experience and shared spectrum of leadership emotions. Identifying one or two trusted people to turn to when the feeling of loneliness overwhelms us is vital.
Consider surrendering, but not in the way you think. Revisit leadership goals and priorities. Reevaluate your time and how you are spending it. Are there areas in your leadership where you can surrender control and let go of the reins? Who can you identify that might share the burden of responsibility or be raised into a new position of leadership?
Loneliness may be a feeling that continues to linger, yet, with time and experience, you will be able to stand in confidence in the face of critics and your feelings to reclaim the joy, hope, peace and love that leadership in the name of Jesus was meant to be.
- Locate and write down two Bible verses or passages that you could reference and pray through in times of leadership loneliness.
- What areas in your leadership do you need to surrender? Are there tasks that you can release to others to share in leadership responsibilities?
Shanna Crowell (embraceenthusiasm.net)