3 Reasons Why Leaders are Tired in 2021

Nick Settles
June 3rd, 2021

3 Reasons Why Leaders are Tired in 2021

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 of 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 you may be tired in 2021.

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 transition to 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 facilitate the night. We were excited, yet terrified, to see how our leaders would stepped up to the challenge.

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, any team member 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.

Fruit Is Harder To See Through A Screen

The content paradox is that you can send something out but never know what impact (return) it will have. Even if you get a thousand likes, it doesn’t mean 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 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.

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 this 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, 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 our souls. We wonder if there are going to be more surges of violence, what is going to happen with teens spending 4 hours a night on Tik Tok, and when the mental health of teens is taking a dip amid social isolation, leaders struggle. As leaders, we feel the whiplash of culture as teens are also trying to make sense of the world we live in. This season feels like we are on a 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 must 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, we reveal 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 rest in him. Perhaps, 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.

Nick Settles

Nick Settles is a Student Pastor at Northstar Church in Knoxville, TN. Nick is passionate about equipping students and leaders to find their destiny in leadership, discipleship, and relationships. You can find more about Nick and his writing at nicksettles.com.

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