The Crazy Dark Days

Leadership is lonely.

We know that.  We’ve been told that a zillion different ways from a million different leaders.

But, have you ever had one of those days that is beyond just lonely?  One of those days where it feels so dark, like the world is closing in and you want to just walk away?

I call those the dark days of leadership.  The days when the shades of grey are so thick you can’t see hope for the future at all.  The days where you question everything.  The days when your confidence and commitment seem nearly gone.

Lonely days are one thing, but dark days are lethal.

Darkness is suffocating and debilitating and if you allow yourself to live there too long it will destroy your leadership.

I’ve had my share of dark days.  And what I’ve found is that there is a direct correlation between my dark days and my communion with God.  More specifically my lack of communion with God.

My dark days come when…

  • I’ve been working from my own strength
  • I’ve eliminated solitude and sabbath
  • I’ve failed to head the warnings of loved ones and friends
  • I’ve neglected quality, consistent time with God

My dark days are a result of my vain efforts to be Wonder Woman.

Are you going to continue this craziness?  For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. Galatians 3:3 The Message

The dark days are the hardest days to stop and get perspective.  I find myself toiling more over the things I’m stressing about and yet frantically getting nowhere.   I love that the Galatians passage calls this “crazy”.  Yep, that’s what it feels like – CRAZY!

Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don’t quit. Psalm 27:14 The Message

How about you?

Do you wrestle with dark days?  How do you stop the craziness?

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  • Mela Kamin February 19, 2010  

    great thoughts – I wholeheartedly agree – my attitude is always in direct proportion to the time I spend with God & in His Word. I often think I can go it alone, or I get frustrated with myself because I should know better, or I misplace my energy and time in other people writing about God's Word (and that has its place), but nothing can take the place of the real thing.

    When the darkness seems too much (and I finally realize it), I try to speak the name of Jesus – it has such power – either speaking scripture or singing praise & worship starts bringing in the light.

    • jcatron February 19, 2010  

      Mela – it's amazing the power of worship and scripture!

  • David Lyons February 19, 2010  

    Good stuff Jenni,
    I think, as leaders, most of us struggle with these things. That makes me wonder what we should do for a solution. I'd love to hear the steps you take to get out of the dark days and the things you suggest to help minimize them. Some of the things I do:
    -pray and ask God to remove the fear, loneliness, frustration, etc.
    -talk with someone else about it
    -immediately try to do something for someone else (to get out of self)

    • jcatron February 19, 2010  

      David – great point. Coming out of the dark days is difficult. Prayer is the biggie for me. I have to stop whatever it is that I'm frantic about and go find a way to talk to God. Journaling my prayers usually really helps me because writing my prayers tends to help me focus. Another big one for me is talking about it with the people in my life who will be honest and level-headed. I tend to want to shut down and not talk when I'm feeling this way and so I have to force myself to talk to my husband, my sister or a close friend.

  • Nancy Charlene February 19, 2010  

    So glad I found you. What encouragement. Thank you. I have song write, play & sing piano. I immerse myself in praise & worship – even though it may be to God alone. I find you cannot dwell in adverse circumstances and pray thanking him &/or worship or praise him at the same time. Also, reaching out to others. Lately it has been much in prayer for Kate McRae & her family – as well as cancer fighters like her. Esp. children. I was semi touched by Tiger Woods apology today. I think his apology to the public was overkill. I honestly think he's a man without Jesus – doing things that people do without Jesus. Not that those who have him are wiser – but under HIS blood – forgiven. We don't need to look for anyone else to validate or 'forgive' us. I think – if he was truly sincere – he's looking for forgiveness in all the wrong places – the only person who needs to believe in him is Jesus. In order to attain that – he must believe in Jesus first – the forgiveness for his sins and everyone else's IS THERE. even devils believe & tremble – but they are not saved. Thanks again for the post. wonderful.

  • Amber February 20, 2010  

    I have found that it helps to realize that my feelings are not true. I need to think about the truth even if it is just listening to music that I know has a true message.

  • Kenny Silva February 21, 2010  

    Jenni, thank you for the post. I really needed to read this today. The message from Galatians is so clear. Sometimes, we work so hard that we isolate ourselves for everyone around us, including God. Perspective is easily lost in this scenario. The most important thing to do is take a step back, look at the big picture, and re-prioritize. Usually, that process require a catalyst. Your post was my catalyst today, so thank you!

  • Chrystie February 22, 2010  

    I'm a little slow commenting. I really enjoyed and relate to this post. There are lonely days and then there are dark days. The dark days are definitely the ones that are harder to gain perspective. What I started practicing on those days is speaking God's word aloud. So whether that is reciting memory verses or even just stating what I believe aloud, that helps break me out of the poor pitiful me place. I also think accountability or a mentor is huge, because I need someone pouring into me. A leader is often pouring themselves out and even when I am in God's word regularly and seeking sabbath, I can find myself empty and dark. Those days it is so important to have a close girlfriend or mentor to build into me, encourage me, speak truth over me. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Morgan March 3, 2010  

    I'm a little late to this one, but I know I found it in just the right timing! I completely identify at this moment in my life. Lots of people expect lots of things from a leader, and it is always easier, and more immediately gratifying, to please them first. I have to constantly remember, though, that I do what I do for an audience of one. When I forget that, I burn out quickly. When I remember that, I live with supernatural energy.

    Thanks for not being afraid to discuss the not-so-pretty side of leadership. It's encouraging and challenging to me!