Doesn’t “I’m tired” feel like the understatement of the year?
There is a weight on the soul of pastors and leaders as we step out consistently and passionately for our people this year. My desire is to list a few relevant and significant reasons for what is weighing on our souls as we navigate this different tiredness in 2021.
Identifying the root of our emotions is hard work, but necessary work. As we name the sources of our tiredness then we can bring them to Jesus who knows what we need.
Here are some of the reasons why you may be tired in 2021:
1. Nothing is guaranteed
There are few feelings of humility and trust as when you pour your heart into a Wednesday night or Sunday night and at the last second you have to go home and watch from online or postpone the night. I had just moved into the Student Pastor role when on our second Wednesday night ever my wife discovered she had a 101.5 temperature. We had to rely on our leaders to take over the night. We were excitingly terrified to see how our leaders stepped up to the challenge. But there are few feelings like being sidelined and unable to see the students we lead.
As I watched online, I realized two things:
Flexibility is mandatory for leaders right now.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:14-15)
A terrifying thought is that this is the way God has planned for us long before COVID.
Unity is mandatory for leaders right now.
It is hard to build momentum when at any second anyone on your team or you could be sidelined for two weeks. Anything that is planned can be cancelled. We have to hold everything with open hands.
It is tiring to pour your heart out every week knowing that anything could be postponed or cancelled.
2. Fruit is harder to see through a screen
The content paradox is that you can send something out but never know what it will return. Even if you get a thousand likes doesn’t mean that it hit someone’s heart. A post or video could not get a single like, but genuinely make a difference in a student’s life.
We long for our work to be validated and to know that it wasn’t all for nothing. When you pour your heart into content or sermon prep, it is in our nature, to want to know it was worth it.
It is tiring to put out content and never see the life change that is happening in your students.
3. Culture is moving fast fast
Here is a short list of some major cultural shifts that have happened in the past 12 months:
- The capital was stormed in January which hasn’t happened since the war of 1812. (source)
- We had one of the biggest social justice movements in US history within the past year. (source)
- From 2019 to 2020, Tik Tok went from 1 billion downloads to 2 billion downloads. (source) Snapchat has been the favorite social media among Gen Z for multiple years now, but Tik Tok is now 5% behind the beloved Snapchat (2020).
- Apparently, the mullet is going to be the hairstyle of 2021. (source)
- 13.84% of youth in America (age 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. (source)
As leaders, each one of these cultural shifts wear on the soul because it is a new obstacle to face. When we wonder if there are going to be more surges of violence, when there are teens spending 4 hours a night on Tik Tok, and when the mental health of teens are taking a dip amid social isolation then leaders share their struggle. As leaders, we feel the whiplash of culture as teens are also trying to make sense of the world we live in. There are seasons as if it can feel like we are on cultural clean up.
It is tiring to lead students in a world that is raising more cultural questions than answers.
Tiredness is nothing new in 2021. There is always more to do, more to accomplish, and more fires to put out. Leaders in the church have to lead out in the area of rest. When the world glorifies and encourages workaholic habits the church has to be different. We have the opportunity to show the world how to rest. In doing so, reveals a different way of life. A life that truly leads to life to the full.
Remember, tiredness is not the enemy. God made us to be tired with the intention that we would depend upon him. 2021 may be taking us to new levels of tiredness so that we can go to new levels of dependence. When we name it, then we can begin to tame it.