7 Encouragements for Leaders Who Worry

The title is confusing, isn’t it? It assumes some leaders worry and some don’t. The truth is, however, that most leaders will have occasions of worry. I’ve talked to some who say at least one day a week they are consumed with anxiety and fear. It’s the kind of frustration that makes them almost want to quit. I talked to a pastor recently who is struggling with stomach problems (I won’t get more graphic than that), because of the worry he is dealing with as a leader.

The fact that you worry shows that you are normal, human, and conscientious as a leader. You want to be successful and the natural reaction is to worry when you feel you may not be. Emotions play tricks on us. They’re fickle. They’re unreliable. Our desire to do well, causes our emotions to produce worry.

Obviously, Jesus said, “Do not worry!” We know that. We believe that. We want to live that. What’s the practical side? How do we actually live out that command? Having a strong faith is no guarantee your emotions won’t play tricks on you at times.

All of us worry, but what do you do when worry seems to control you as a leader?

Here are 7 encouragements for those who worry in leadership:

Pray and study – Worry is by definition a misplaced trust. Ultimately your answer is in God’s ability and His control, not your own. If worry is consistently plaguing your leadership, improving your relationship with Christ through Bible study and prayer is step one.

Remember your purpose – You have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. When worry hits you, you need grounding to something more permanent than your worries. You have a purpose. You believe in a vision. You have goals. You need to remember what fuels your fire and why you are willing to take the risk of leadership. If worry has gotten to the place where you’re not sure of your purpose anymore, stop everything and find it again. You can’t afford not to.

Contact an encouraging friend – I always find other leaders can speak truth into my life just when I need it most. God uses relationships to strengthen us and make us better. I have to be bold enough to text a friend and say, “I could use some encouragement”, but I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve been that bold. If you don’t have someone like this in your life that’s your assignment. The goal is to find the person and build the relationship before you need them.

Check your track record – Most likely you’ve had success that led to the position you have now. You can do it again. One reason I keep an encouragement file is so I can read through the positive things I’ve done on days when nothing seems positive.

Count your blessings – There are always others who would love to have what you have. Someone is always worse off than you are. Most likely, even outside the position you have as a leader, God has blessed your life. Spend some time remembering the good God has allowed you to experience. The list is probably longer than you think and will help you avoid worry as you recall what God has already given you.

Get some rest – Worry is more present when you are tired. You may have to quit for the day so you can prepare for better days. The depth of the worry should determine the length of the period of rest. I’ve also learned that part of being fully “rested” also includes making sure you are as healthy as you can be by eating the right foods and exercising, especially during the busiest seasons of life.

Rationalize – Most of the things we worry about never come true. Is your worry based on reality or based on your emotional assumptions? Dismiss the things you can’t control, aren’t certain will go wrong, or the unknown. The more you limit irrational thoughts, the less for which you’ll have to worry.

How do you battle the moments of worry as a leader?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “7 Encouragements for Leaders Who Worry

  1. Ron,

    Really enjoy reading your blog. You have a God-given gift to presenting relevant perspectives regarding ministry effectiveness.

    I would only add the following advice Michael J. Fox gave that I ran across recently that I shared with a young single man in our church facing re-discovery of luekemia:

    “Don’t cross that bridge…yet. Apply the advice Michael J. Fox offers in his book, A funny thing happened on the way to the future, ‘Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice. When things do go bad, don’t run, don’t hide. Stick it out, and be scrupulous in facing every part of your fear. Try to be still. It will take time, but you’ll find even the gravest problems are finite–and that your choices are infinite.'”

    Nan Russell in Titleless Leader

  2. Thanks Ron, I've got some 'worrying' material that has been handed to me…..gotta pray my way through. LOVE the encouragement file suggestion, well …actually love all the suggestions.

    Please share a prayer for us as we go through the trails of life that these so called worries don't overshadow God's good in our every moment, every day. I need a refocus refresher!

    Thank you, Thank you : )

  3. I actually did these last week for the same reason — worry, not the stomach thing — and I do feel much better after having done each of these. Therefore, I endorse the list.

  4. These are good tips. Taking the rationalizing tip a bit further, replacing untrue thoughts with true ones helps keep our minds from wandering back to worrisome thoughts.