Frazzled. Frenetic. Frayed. Fatigued. Fog.

Too often these kinds of words describe the head and heart space of Christian leaders.

After all, this type of head and heart space easily breeds in hectic ministry and work environments. When there are non-stop competing demands, constant and chaotic changes, and complex decisions to navigate, it follows that leaders find themselves scattered, unfocused and eventually worn down.

Thankfully, Jesus points us to a different way.

In Mark 1:21-34 Jesus had had an incredible day. He started by teaching in the synagogue, then visited a friends’ mother-in-law (and healed her) and then, in the evening, the whole town gathered at his door with all the sick and demon-possessed. Many with various diseases were healed and many demons were driven out.

Quite a day! Invigorating, unforgettably intense and likely spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausting.

The next morning, when everyone woke up, they began to look for Jesus. After the miraculous night before, they likely longed to see Jesus do even more. But Simon and his companions couldn’t find Jesus. He was gone!

As Mark writes in 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” Jesus had chosen to pull away. He likely needed space to catch his breath, to give thanks, to enjoy intimacy with Father and Spirit, to process what had happened, to guard his heart from the expectations and praise of others and to listen closely for whatever God was calling him to next.

When Simon found Jesus he didn’t find a frazzled, frenetic, frayed or fatigued Jesus lost in a mental fog. Instead, he found Jesus with great clarity, surprising focus and deep confidence. Jesus replied in Mark 1:38, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” For Jesus, his next steps were clear and he was ready to lean into his calling — even though this direction may have surprised or even disappointed others.

Pulling away for prayer and perspective wasn’t a one-time event for Jesus. It was a regular rhythm. And it’s a rhythm that can radically and positively change your head and heart space (and mine).

This rhythm and practice of pulling away can take various forms. I’m a runner and pulling away can mean a run that quiets and clears my head. It can be 3-5 minutes of silence as you start your day. It can be part of the blessing from an intentional Sabbath day. I try to step out of our office every afternoon and take 15 minutes to walk around the block. You could pause at lunch to read Scripture. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop. I try to book a half or full day regularly at a local retreat center. These kinds of simple but intentional steps can help radically change your head and heart space.

To help leaders in this important area, we have recently launched a new resource called a Leadership Tune-up. It’s designed to help busy leaders step back, find fresh perspective and experience renewed clarity, focus and confidence. It includes an online assessment, followed by a 90-minute one-to-one personalized coaching session with me. You can learn more here: www.arrowleadership.org/tuneup

Our world and your organization desperately needs leaders with clarity, focus and confidence. When was the last time you pulled away? What could this look like for you?

Cheering you on in life and leadership!

Dr. Steve A. Brown

President