Leadership is exhausting. It really is. No matter whether we are talking about leading our staff at the office, our ministry at church or our family at home, every area of life requires leadership energy being spent. This means, leadership uniquely drains us. Spiritually. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Jesus became flesh and therefore knew and felt this exhaustion intimately. Jesus never failed to pray. But we do. In my conversations with fellow leaders, lack of prayer emerges regularly as a problem. It is certainly an ongoing fight to pray in my own life and leadership. But why are leaders uniquely prone to prayerless-ness? Here are 2 reasons.
We have a high view of our capabilities
Leaders lead others because, in most cases, they have been found to be extremely competent and effective in completing tasks and getting things done. This means that leaders are prone to connect their “activity” or busyness with their effectiveness at an unhealthy level. Prayer wages war with a leader’s sense of importance and self sufficiency, Prayer forces us to stop. It forces us to acknowledge that our strength is limited. In an age of distraction, prayer forces us to acknowledge the most important work in the world presently happening is never our own. It is the Lord’s.
“God is calling us to rest in him regularly. But we cannot hear his still small voice (or even his bold, declarative voice) because the volume of our routines is turned to 11”. – Jared Wilson
We have a check-list understanding of prayer
Most of the great leaders I’ve know in my life have been exceptionally disciplined, regimented people. They are typically very productive and think intentionally through how to best steward their most important asset: time. This usually means, leaders like list. To-do-list. Priority list. List of goals. Whatever. Lists are extremely valuable in the life of a leader. The problem is not lists. The problem is how we begin perceiving the things on the list. When prayer is merely an item on a daily checklist then we have officially crossed over from delight to duty. The truth is, prayer for list-checking’s sake disconnects our hearts from the true beauty and blessing of prayer: communion with God.
Look at your daily checklist leader. You can do none of it apart from Jesus. (John 15:5)
Leaders, prayer “is not just another thing for the checklist but rather the thing that makes the checklist doable”. (Jared Wilson)