By Brian Dodridge
There is a weight to leadership. We can’t escape this, but we can navigate it wisely. When the pressure of your decisions feel overwhelming, here are some relief strategies:
1. Limit your Monday morning quarterbacking
President Truman not only said “the buck stops here,” but he also referenced the concept of avoiding the Monday morning quarterback. He knew all decisions would be questioned under a new day’s light. Sometimes with information that wasn’t available at the time the decision had to be made. Monday morning quarterbacking can make any leader question their decisions, so stop subjecting yourself to it.
If you made the best decision you could with the information you had at that time, then give yourself a break, and don’t second guess yourself.
Due to ice and the threat of more bad weather, I decided to close the offices and evening activities at our church recently (impacting several hundred people). That day, the day of the closure, sometime after lunch the sun began shining and the snow and ice were melting like Olaf in spring. The Monday morning quarterback said closure was the wrong decision, but at 6:30am that morning, when the decision had to be made, it was the prudent decision.
Learning for next time is one thing, but interrogating yourself will put unneeded weight on yourself.
2. Be okay with the explanation of Acts 15
“It seemed good to us and the holy spirit.”
If that’s the case, which you felt in agreement with the Holy Spirit, then be resolute and move on. When you have been in the presence of Christ, and gave the decision its due consideration with prayerful thinking, then trust the decision. You’re not God (and don’t buy into the lie people expect you to be).
3. Take heart that you’re watching out for the whole
Some decisions, when only considering one person, aren’t best. But when the same decision has in consideration many people, the whole of the group, or church, it seems different, and the best course of action. I’ll assume you want the best for the whole, and acting for the whole can cause individuals some heartache. While we’re called to individuals, they’ll be times when your leadership role requires you to look out for the whole, and you have to find comfort your decision was the best decision for the larger group.
4. Learn to be okay with little appreciation
If you’re looking for someone to come alongside of you after each hard decision, and tell you that you’re a great leader, and they appreciate your decisiveness, it’s probably not going to happen. Sometimes only the leader(s) sees the reasons behind a decision, and appreciate the decision’s value. You may be appreciated for other things, but rarely do people flock to applaud tough decisions. Don’t connect your value as a decision-maker to the amount of appreciation a decision receives.
Leaders make decisions. Leaders rightly feel the weight of those decisions. You can’t escape this, but you can manage it. The next time the weight of a decision you made feels heavy, see if one of these four strategies will bring some weight-relief.
Brian Dodridge serves as executive pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church near Nashville, TN.