How's your energy? Could it use a boost? Try this energy audit
What’s one of the greatest assets you have as a leader? Your energy.
So how are you a being the best steward of your energy?
I know us leaders, many of us are super driven. (Yes, I’d tend to fall into this category, just ask my team...they’d say that’s an understatement.)
Let me be clear - this is not a bad thing. I’m not going to tell you to ‘stop’ or not be so ‘driven.’ We need driven people in this world seeking to be a part of God’s Kingdom work and leading the church. Thank you for being driven as a leader! Driven people get things done. God’s Kingdom is advancing in mighty ways, we need to keep up with His Spirit. We’ve all seen leaders that don’t get things done, drag their heels and are the opposite of driven. We do not need more of those leaders. Those leaders are not being good stewards of their energy either.
Don’t be less driven, but please, please, please be a disciplined, intentional master of your energy.
This can make or break your leadership.
This can make or break your relationships.
This can make or break YOU.
Apply your driven-ness to figuring out your energy.
Be an investigator of your energy and figuring out how to maximize it for the right things.
Becoming a master steward of my energy changed everything for me as a leader.
Understand, I’ve always been driven. The majority of my life I’ve been in 4th and 5th gear. Even as a teen I remember my Mom saying to me “You know, Renée, most people take a break between activities.” After a friend and I spent a weekend together, that for the record I thought I was relaxing weekend, he said “You should have a label that says ‘Warning: highly active person.’” My idea of a perfect, relaxing Saturday, is to have time to go for an 18K run. I get easily bored and need something that grabs my attention and gives me a new challenge. It’s how I’m wired, both in leadership and life.
However, I’ve also burnt myself out twice. In my 20’s I had a terrible case of shingles. That’s right - in my 20’s, I had a virus for old, run-down people! It’ll come as no surprise that at different times, different people have told me to “slow down” or “stop” and I just couldn’t do it - I’m wired to move, to dream, to act, to set goals, to charge the next mountain. I could not slow down. Yet, it’s super clear that I had to figure something out or I’d be no good to anyone and not be a leader for very long. You and I have got to figure out our energy or we’ll harm ourselves, those around us, and our churches/organizations.
Everything changed for me when I started to think about energy stewardship.
Instead of thinking about going slower or stopping I started to think about becoming a masterful steward of my energy, which is one of the greatest gifts God has given each of us (whether you are high energy, low energy or somewhere in between.) I shifted to leading my energy well, seeing myself as the only one, with God’s help, that could guard, use, multiple, and invest my energy.
Energy is a gift I better not bury, burn-up or invest in the wrong places!
In John 15 Jesus shares a metaphor. I invite you to read it considering the perspective of the plant.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” John 15:1-5
I’ve often looked at this passage from the perspective of the gardener, God’s perspective. “Right, I’ve got to let God prune me and take away the bad fruit.” Which is true, but when I switched it to the plant’s perspective, which is the character I am in this metaphor, it’s all about energy. That changes everything - because I can DO something about my energy.
Think about what’s happening to the plant's energy in this scenario. In a vineyard, one of the main roles of the vine keeper is to regularly prune perfectly good fruit. They prune growth. If they don’t, eventually the vine will shoot for the medium. See, the plant has limited energy (just like us), there are not enough resources to support that much fruit on the vine. So, they have to prune even good fruit back, so that the most productive areas of the vine get the resources they need.
Thinking of it from the plant’s perspective, it has limited energy - it can either produce lots of blah, mediocre fruit, that will only be ok OR with its limited energy it can produce less (I’m picturing four) pieces of fruit, but they are amazing.
How many places is my energy going?
Will it allow my life to produce amazing fruit?
How many of us are stuck in a schedule where our energy is going to so many places we will only ever produce mediocre results?
Is this why we struggle with new fruit - new ideas, new projects, new things we want to pursue?
We’re terrible at saying “no” or we think we can’t say “no” because “It’s a church thing, God must be in it.”
Is this why we have ended up with a whole lot of mediocre lives, mediocre leaders, mediocre churches?
Just ask if it’s true of you? I know it’s often true of me - I’ve poured a lot of energy into mediocre projects, mediocre fruit instead of concentrating energy on the best fruit.
Have you ever had a mango from the grocery store? It’s OK. It’ll pass.
Have you ever had fresh mango, from the tree? It’s like a whole different fruit. Is your mouth watering just thinking about it? When I was travelling in Costa Rica I had real, fresh mango for the first time. It tasted amazing! It’s really hard to go back to grocery store mango now.
A lot of us are like the fruit from the grocery store - we’re doing too much; our energy is going lots of different places. We are wondering why we are not seeing better fruit in our lives. We are wondering why we are often out of energy.
We need leaders that give their best energy to the best projects. Leaders who know their energy is limited, and so give their best energy, to God's best priorities for them, where they uniquely can produce the BEST fruit.
It’s all about energy.
Which kind of fruit are you going to produce with where your energy is going?
How much energy do you have?
Just like the plant,
if we do not have enough energy, we’ll slowly, wither and die
if we have mediocre energy, we’ll produce a little mediocre fruit
if we have high energy, we’ll produce high quality, fruit with good seeds in it that produce more good fruit. (Hmmm…sounds kind of like disciple-making.)
Rather than thinking about the fruit, the results, which just lead you and me to try to do more and more and more (AND Jesus is the one that looks after the fruit anyway) we’ve got to think about energy.
How do I maximize my energy?
How can I be radically intentional about energy stewardship and then the fruit will come?
We’ve heard often about remaining in the vine. Yes, absolutely, that is first and foremost, Jesus is our life, our purpose, our source of energy, our hope and salvation. We need to be rooted in Christ and in our identity in Christ. We need to protect time dwelling in Christ’s presence and hearing from him. If you haven’t figured that one out yet, figure that out first - apart from Him we can do nothing. Then…
How else can I be a steward of my energy?
Where is your wasted energy going now?
What is truly your responsibility and what is NOT your responsibility?
How can you be the BEST steward of the energy, gifts and opportunities you have?
How can you steward your energy to give the best to things where you uniquely can produce the best fruit?
How can you invest more in doing the things that keep your passion for Jesus, your energy, joy, and life at their best?
I invite you to do an energy audit of your life. I’ve already warned my team I’m going to be taking a fresh look at this over the summer and for our fall plans. Honestly look at your life and schedule and answer these questions:
- What are the things only I can do? (e.g. only you can likely cheer on your kid at their important event but likely someone else can find volunteers to be greeters)
- What are the key relationships that I am the best one to invest in?
- What people/teams give me the most energy?
- What activities give me the most energy?
- What energy drains needs to be minimized in my schedule? How?
- What energy-givers needs to be maximized in my schedule? How?
- What spiritual disciplines/rhythms do I need in this season? Where can they be guarded in my schedule?
- What time of day is my energy the best? What needs my attention during that time of day?
- How can I build my energy stamina?
- What time do I need to go to bed?
- What time do I need to get up?
I do have to comment on those last 3 questions - one of the amazing things about an energy perspective is I can actually multiple my energy and build my energy reserves through things like exercise, eating habits and sleeping routines. How cool is it that this is a gift that we can build to be a stronger, bigger gift?
So, yes, I keep a very full schedule, it is no secret. However, I also diligently protect the things I know I need to be at my best and give the best to the Kingdom. My work schedule is full, but just as protected in my schedule is time for journaling, rest, exercise, adventures with friends that make me smile. I know I need these for my energy stewardship.
How are you becoming a better student and steward of your energy?
I can’t wait to taste and see the beautiful fruit Jesus will produce as we listen to Him and focus our energy on His priorities for us.
Hope this helps.