Friday, December 28, 2012

5 ways for leaders to get out of a funk: Top ten leadership posts for 2012

How often do you get into a funk?

Recently, I met with a young church planter who said he was in a funk. He has a wonderful family. He's gathering people, watching God change lives, and living out a dream. Yet, in spite of all the great things God is doing in his life, his introverted, melancholic, perfectionist tendencies are being leveraged by the enemy to steal his joy and peace. He's in a funk.

A funk is a dejected, disgusted, disinterested mood. When I am in a funk I am grumpy, disengaged, lethargic, and de-motivated. I am not fun to be around. I throw pity-parties. Not only does the to-do list not get done, it doesn't even get made!

I think funks are inevitable. They are part of fallen humanity. So, we shouldn't be surprised or guilt-ridden when we end up in a funk. But I know that at the root of my funk is my sin. Scripture tells us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). When my heart is not rejoicing, it's a telltale sign that I have placed someone or something other than Jesus on the throne of my life. Funks flow from idolatry. When I stay in a funk, I am telling a watching world that Jesus is not enough for me. Extended funks are not OK.

Remember that God still loves you when you are in a funk (Ephesians 3:18-19). But also remember that He loves you too much to let you stay there.

In the Bible, we see leaders who got into a funk. One was David. Leadership for David was often hard. "And David was greatly distressed... But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God" (I Samuel 30:6, ESV). The KJV says that he "encouraged himself" in the Lord. Evidently, David was able to de-funk-ify his life.

I want learn more and more how to encourage myself in the Lord - how to de-funk-ify my life. My wife, my family and my friends want me to learn that, too.

So, how do we encourage ourselves and get out of a funk? It helps me to think about a plan of attack in five ways - physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

1. Move physically. Go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. Get outside if you can. Do 10 minutes of push-ups, jumping jacks, and squats. Get to the gym. When you exercise, your brain will release endorphins that will elevate your mood. Or you might want to try something as simple as taking a shower or a bath. Or take a nap. Organize your desk and/or your office. Just change something physically.

2. Stretch mentally. Learn something new. How? Memorize a Bible verse. Learn an inspirational quote. Read a few pages in a book on theology, history, science, nature, technology, or leadership. Share a few things you learn with some friends via a note, a card, Twitter, or Facebook.

3. Grow emotionally. Put on some upbeat, happy music. Make a play list of upbeat music and play it loud. Music has a powerful way to connect us to the good times we're already experienced in the past. Even if you have no reason or don't feel like it, laugh! For 7 seconds. Your emotions will often follow your body’s lead. Smile at the people you see. And watch them smile back. Hang around people that love you or who can make you laugh. Avoid the VDPs in your life (the Very Draining People!). Instead, talk with an encouraging friend who knows how to listen and lift your spirits.

4. Serve relationally. Who (besides you!) is having a hard time? Stop feeling sorry for yourself and lift someone else's spirits. Write a note; send a card; make a call; go out with them for coffee; buy a gift card; or give a generous gift. Just do something to make someone else's day. Or volunteer to do some work with your church or your local charity. If you are married, write a love note to your spouse and mail it.

5. Soar spiritually. Read some inspiring sections or stories in the Bible that have a track record of lifting your heart. Make a list of 3-5 things (or more) you are grateful for and then thank God for them. Pour out your heart to God. Ask Him to help you get out of your funk. Remember, apart from Christ you can do nothing (John 15:5). Trying to de-funk-ify your life without Jesus is just empty/vain/futile self-help. Jesus can fill you with positive, uplifting thoughts. He can help you give thanks for what you have rather than what you don’t have. If you have Jesus, you have what money can't buy and death can't take away (Ephesians 1:3, II Peter 1:3). He can help you be joyful about what you get to do rather than what you have to do. He is the ultimate attitude-adjuster. Stay connected to Christ.

Question: So, how do you de-funk-ify your life?

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