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Leaders who are fully engaged in their mission fight battles.

There is no way to avoid battles if you want to make progress consistently.

New territory is never easy, and it always comes at a price.

Life never grants a free ride, and leaders don’t receive a “get out of jail free” card when it comes to solving serious problems.

The good news is that we don’t fight alone. God brings His presence, power, and favor to the mix, but He never removes the human element.

The realities of our humanity require us to face a variety of problems such as financial pressures, staff issues, misalignment of vision and values, and the list goes on. These are very real issues, but they all occur in the outward realm.

The most common battles we face are inner battles. Sometimes they are about everyday stuff and easily conquered. If left untended for long periods of time, however, they can take a leader out.

It’s best to identify it and devote intentional effort to defeat it through wise counsel, prayer and practical steps of action.

Here are the Top 3 Inner Battles, not listed in any specific order:

1) Distraction

It’s not uncommon to become distracted in ministry. Leaders are often pulled in a number of directions at one time. If we are not centered, focused and intentional in our work it’s easy to get pulled away from the most productive priorities.

It’s best to first identify the source of distraction. It can come in a number of forms from things such as health issues, lack of intentional focus and discipline, family struggles, feeling overwhelmed and even sometimes boredom. Yes, leaders can be busy but be under-challenged and bored.

It may seem counter-intuitive to put more time into the issue of distraction, but as long as you are focused on a positive solution, that’s the best way to beat it.

2) Discouragement

I don’t think I’ve met a church leader who hasn’t experienced discouragement. Candidly the Enemy loves this one the most. If he can get leaders discouraged, and convince them that God isn’t with them, he can strike a huge blow to the church.

Discouragement often comes when you are overtired and overwhelmed. Discouragement often finds its mark when your perspective becomes skewed. When you think things like you are in it alone, no one cares, and nothing is working.

Take some time to rest, think and play. Get some time with a trusted friend to help you see more clearly. God is with you and you are doing something that matters!

3) Divided-Heart

This usage of the term “divided-heart” refers to when a leader is unclear about their calling, passion, and purpose.

When a leader is unsure of what their job or career should be, they can become dual-minded which results in being internally conflicted. The end result is the feeling of being pulled in two directions. No leader can sustain this for a long period of time.

This is very different than prayerfully dreaming about your future and what God has in store for you. A divided heart is when you are truly not clear about what you are supposed to do in the present.

If this is the case, don’t panic, but don’t set it aside to deal with it “later.” You can blink and a year has gone by! Set aside some extended time to think, pray and seek wise counsel.

Ultimately this will come to a decision-making process. Please read this post for help in practical decision-making.

If you are distracted, discouraged, or have a divided-heart, take comfort in knowing you are walking in familiar territory for leaders. You can beat this. Don’t give up. Take a first step today.

Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

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