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Weariness

By April 29, 2021Leadership

If we’ve learned anything over the last fourteen months, it’s this: Not much is really stable in our world. Our health can improve or decline, with or without the coronavirus. Our savings and investments can go up or down, or go away. Even the most secure, bolted-down belief will feel a tremor every now and then.

I’m often asked, “Ken, what has been your biggest test throughout these fourteen months?” It’s hard to single out a specific, unique event or moment. What often appears to be a single, solitary moment rarely happens in isolation. Even in those cases that appear to be standalone events, you will often find there are things building up to it and the aftermath that follows.

So, I believe the biggest test I’ve faced — and I’m not alone — is not one single test but the stacking of multiple tests over a compressed period of time.

Let me illustrate by taking you to the ocean (in my mind, it’s Mission Beach in San Diego but feel free to pick Cabo San Lucas!). For the person taking a casual stroll on the beach, the dangerous waves are out in the distance. You might be able to see them, but they pose no threat to you. By the time they reach the shore, they peacefully resolve and recede back into the ocean, leaving behind those sea shells every kid likes to collect.

For a majority of the time, that’s the beach experience we enjoy … and have come to expect.

But there are other times of the year, not the cloudy, overcast days that spoil your walk along the beach – I’m talking about those dangerous days. Hurricane season. A tropical storm or hurricane hits the coast and beats the shores with an unrelenting force of wind and waves. Instead of leaving behind cute sea shells, these waves uproot benches, over turn cars, and destroy homes.

Here’s the reality, you might have taken a nice stroll on this same beach just two or three days before the hurricane arrived. Most people are aware that not every day is blue skies and seventy-two degrees. Most people are also aware of hurricanes. Most people, however, also assume they will never get caught in one.

A hurricane is dangerous because it amplifies existing threats and unleashes them over a sustained period of time. A rain shower interrupts your picnic and then it’s gone.

What has been the biggest test of the past fourteen months?

I believe it is weariness.

When the waves are peaceful and the only effort we are exerting is the effort to walk along the beach, we might get tired but we don’t get weary. When the clouds roll in and hide the blue skies, you have every reason to believe the blue skies will be back tomorrow. The overcast skies might annoy you, but they don’t exhaust you.

Now, imagine that you staring down a hurricane (which, by the way, I’m not recommending!) and trying to hold your ground. How long will you be able withstand a tropical storm, much less a level five hurricane?

But allow me to give you some credit – you’re smart enough to stay off the beach during a hurricane. As someone who lived on the west coast for ten years, I know from personal experience that you don’t to be walking the boardwalk to feel the effects of the storm. You might live a few miles inland and have damage to your house and yard.

Here’s what I think about the last fourteen months: we have encountered sustained winds strong enough to cause significant damage and all of us live within the strike zone. While these winds may not be shaking our trees, there’s no doubt they’ve moved a few things around. What are a few of these winds?

  • A virus that has harmed and killed thousands of people
  • Pandemic-related quarantines and lockdowns
  • Pandemic-related anxieties and worries
  • Students with increased mental health issues
  • Economic hardship
  • Racial tensions
  • Increased distrust among between groups of people
  • Increased polarization in our politics
  • Increased division on social media

Adding to these challenges is the popular tendency to respond by shouting, labeling, or cancelling. What is the result? Weariness.

In some seasons, working through the weariness is your only option. Winter may be hard but spring is coming. When one season seems to last forever (like fourteen months), what then? In these cases, the reset button only works when it’s held down for more than a passing second. Rest must be intentional and sustained. New patterns must emerge. Perhaps more than anything, you cannot let weariness devolve into bitterness.

Weariness is real. Learn to recognize it in yourself and others. Have a game plan for how to navigate it. And never lose hope that we will one day be strolling the beach once again!

Experience and Background

  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in business administration (mba)
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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