I have to admit something to you, and it’s kind of embarrassing. I mean being a forty-one year old man I shouldn’t be this embarrassed, but it takes a lot for me to say this, I love wearing spandex. I know, weird right? But if you put it in the context of why, maybe you’ll understand me. I am a crazy, spandex wearing, road cyclist. See put in context it’s not as weird but I guess still kind of strange.
I love when a group of crazy, spandex wearing guys get together and head out on a long, arduous ride. There is something amazing about setting in on your bike, finding your sweet spot and grinding out a fifty to sixty mile ride with a group of guys just as crazy as you are. The conversation, the laughter, the support and encouragement can get you through the toughest climb and the longest mile.
I think the same thing is true when it comes to small group leadership; we need other people to help us get through the tough spots. If we don’t share the responsibilities of leadership we will crumble under its weight. The truth is, burnout is always on the horizon and if we’re not careful the sunset of leadership will set and we will find ourselves burned out and all alone.
So here are three things I think can protect you from burnout through the eyes of a cyclist:
Keep the pace…
When you ride in a group there is something called a paceline. When carried out properly, it is an extremely effective tool: it enables cyclists to share the work of pushing through the wind. Pacelines are designed to share the workload.
We all know as Small Group Leaders the wind can kick up at any point and time and we absolutely need other people to help us push through it, and not get blown away by it. The goal of a paceline is to keep the group together, not blow it apart by being a leader who keeps a faster pace than everybody else.
Is your pace too fast?
Shift baby shift…
The one thing I had to learn very quickly, especially when riding in a group, is how to use all the gears on my bike properly. If I’m in too low of a gear on a tough up-hill climb, I am going to tire and burn out quickly. The same can be said if I am in too high of a gear on flat ground, I am going to be peddling super fast but not really going anywhere.
As Small Group Leaders we will all face different seasons. Some may feel like a tough up-hill climb, and others may not feel as tough. The key to surviving and thriving in both is to recognize the season we are in and make sure we are in the right “gear’ to get through it.
Are you in the right “gear” for the season you are currently in?
Train hard and rest even harder…
Leaders are readers, leaders are learners, and successful riders are the ones who train the hardest. I have a weekly riding regiment; I even have a crazy weekly goal of riding at least one hundred miles. The reality is, if I am not training hard, properly taking care of myself, and resting well, I wont even be able to ride that first mile. I actually live at the end of a mile long five percent hill so my first mile is always crazy tough, ha.
As leaders, it is so important for us to keep track of our pace, know what “gear” we’re in, and take the necessary time to train hard, but even more important, take the time to rest.
Small Group leadership is not a race, it’s a long, gradual climb to a beautiful view of the amazing things that only God can do through a crazy group of people called the Church.