Recently I was adding some information to my Facebook profile, and one category was “favorite quote.” I immediately wrote in my favorite quote from Edwin Friedman, “stress comes less from overwork than from taking responsibility for the problems of others.” What causes burnout is not hard work, but taking on other people’s anxiety. When I quoted this phrase to someone once, they said, “put that in needlepoint!”
There’s a lot of anxiety floating around right now. Leaders do bear some responsibility for helping to frame the challenges of our day for our followers. But if we take on all that anxiety for ourselves, we’ll be in trouble quickly. Several on my teleconference last week mentioned the challenges of the annual fall stewardship emphasis and budgeting in the current environment. People are worried, no question. And that may impact the realities of financial life at church for some time to come.
But we need to be careful to discern what is our responsibility, and what belongs to others. Simply asking the question may bring us to a different place.