Every leader, in their lifetime, will have the opportunity to experience difficult times. Periods when the perfect plan fails, the key people you counted on let you down, times when you become the blame for everything that goes wrong or when the passion you had for your position simply becomes a chore. It is during this period that you must motivate, encourage and influence others to a higher level and at the same time keep yourself motivated. It is one of the hardest times a leader can go through. In fact, many get stuck in this valley and can’t find their way out (oppression and/or depression occurs). Your goal is to recognize that these times will occur and determine (in advance) your plan to get through these tough times.
Thank God for His Word, as Christian business leaders we have an example and an answer to every situation we face. In this case, we can use three major leaders in the Bible (Moses, David and Jesus) and discover how they encouraged themselves during hard times.
CRY OUT TO GOD
Let’s begin with Moses. He was the leader, the CEO, of the children of Israel during their exodus from Egypt. Many believe that there were millions of men, women and children leaving Egypt with him. After seeing God perform miraculous signs through Moses, we would like to believe they would have followed him anywhere without question and yet we read over and over again their complaints against Moses. For example, in Exodus, we find this account: “Wherefore the people did complain to Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why are you complaining to me? Why do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?” (Exodus 17:2-3).
The next verse goes onto say: “And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people, they are almost ready to stone me”. Of course, this is extreme — very few of us work in an environment where our employees will stone us to death; however constant complaining to you and about you may feel like being stoned. There are those times when our team members are constantly murmuring and complaining against us, or the company, or the lack of benefits and/or not having enough time, people or money to get the job done. What do you do when the murmuring and complaining is too much? What did Moses do? His reply is the first key to motivating yourself: call out to God and ask Him for help.
That is one of the greatest tools that we as Christian leaders have, a Father who listens when we cry out to Him and helps us. We can not be so proud that we refuse to call upon the most High God for help. He promises over and over again, that if we call upon Him, He hears us. Like Moses, there will be some questions which you can not answer and problems you can not solve without God’s intervention. Ask Him for help and watch Him provide the answer.
If we continue on with this account, we find Moses, Aaron and Hur on the mountain top looking down at the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites. When Moses held up the rod of God in his hands, the Israelites prevailed in battle and as Moses grew tired and his hands begin to fall the Amalekites prevailed. We find Aaron and Hur (one on each side) holding his hands steady until the end of the day. The second key in keeping motivated is allowing others to hold you up during this hard time. Your Holy of Holies team can hold you up in prayer before God and your leadership team (your Inner Court) can take on and complete some key tasks within your area. As a side note, by allowing your leadership team to take on key responsibilities you will also increase their motivation.
You’ve done the first and second key and now what? Let’s look at David, a man after God’s own heart as our second example. My Pastor directed the congregation to this scripture: “and David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6). The third key in keeping yourself motivated in troubled times is to encourage yourself. Learn to spend at least five minutes a day encouraging yourself. When I was in the military it was common for many of officers to have an “I Love Me” wall. Somewhere in the office, we would have the awards, pictures of medals being pinned on, letters from commanding officers and even plaques from our troops to remind us of the great things we had accomplished throughout our career. On your hardest days, you need a place to look and mentally see all the lives, activities, projects and companies which have been enhanced, simply because you were there. Don’t get lost in these memories but don’t forget them…use them to encourage yourself. Also, take the time to recall what God says about you! He said, and because we serve a living God, He continues to say great things about you! RIGHT NOW … identify three ways in which you can encourage yourself!
TRUST GOD IN EVERYTHING
The next key is found by trusting God’s will for our lives. Sometimes it gets so heavy for leaders (Christian and non-Christians) that we find it too hard to encourage ourselves. We honestly don’t know what to do or how to get through a really tough time. An example of this is the Great Depression which occurred in the United States. In studying the history, we can find business leaders who were so distraught that they ended up jumping out of windows to their death because they had lost all hope. This is the hardest place, mentally and spiritually, for a leader to be: when nothing you do can change what’s occurred or what’s about to happen. This is the time to say to God, as Jesus did, “Father if possible, let this pass from me; but nevertheless, Your will, not my will be done”. I can only imagine the agony Jesus felt while he was in Gethsemane, knowing that what was going to occur over the next days had to occur. I don’t believe He was looking forward to the pain, the humiliation or to being abandoned by all He loved. Yet, He knew He had to go through this to get to the other side – for our salvation. He did something that many of us (including myself) don’t enjoy … He endured. He trusted that what God had promised would be accomplished through Him. He stayed focused on the end pictured and trusted God’s will for His life.
So, what can you do when you’re experiencing the rough side of the mountain?
- Cry out to God and ask Him for help!
- Be open with your family, friends and team members and allow them to help you.
- Encourage yourself
- Trust God
Leaders know that there will be hard times where they will need to stay motivated in order to move to the next level. Having tools in your toolkit before you need them will be a key to your success!