How Leaders Get Their Groove Back


Have you ever lost your groove? Leaders do loose their groove from time-to-time. You might call it a funk or a leadership meltdown, but in your heart you know when all is not well.

In this post I share five steps leaders take to get back "in the groove."

Have you lost your groove?

The signs are telling: Your energy level is low. You don't have the emotional capacity to engage people or issues. Your faith has gone flat and you feel superficial. You are saying the right things, but inside you don't really believe it. Your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. Worst of all -- for a leader anyway -- it seems that people are questioning your leadership. You are not sure if they are with you.

I know there is hope for me at times like these because King David, the man after God's own heart, also lost his groove -- and he got it back. You will have to read 1 Samuel 29-30 for the back story, but here is the synopsis:

David and his makeshift army of 600 men had traveled 50 miles on foot over three days to return to their camp at Zikag. Little did they know that while they were away, their enemies had raided their camp. When David and his men arrived, their camp was burned to the ground and their wives and children were missing. David's troops were physically exhausted, emotionally spent, and now royally ticked off with David. 1 Samuel gives us the story:

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 ESV

At that moment, David was most definitely groove-less!  Someone had turned off the music. The party was over! But David's malaise was short-lived. He got his groove back.

How leaders get their groove back

What can a leader learn from David about bouncing back from a leadership funk? Here are five observations:

1. Take responsibility

“But David strengthened himself...”  1 Samuel 30:6 Leaders get back in the groove when they take responsibility for themselves. There's no room for finger-pointing. The bottom line when it comes to getting my groove back is this: “It’s my job!” It's my job to monitor the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual gauges of my life. It's my job to seek God! It's my job to talk to friends. It's my job to take inventory and begin to work it out. You can click here for Checking The Gauges, a helpful personal assessment tool.

2. Build your relationship with God

But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.  1 Samuel 30:6 Leaders are hard-wired to look for causes and solutions. So when the funk settles like a heavy fog, the tendency is to ask WHAT: What book do I need to read? What help do I need to get? Getting the groove back, however, is not ultimately about what. It is about WHO. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. We must do the same.The following verses are powerful reminders of where our real help lies:

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1-2
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Getting the groove back is about understanding the importance of the vertical relationship (God), but it also about the horizontal relationships (family and friends). Tucked away in 1 Chronicles 27:33 is a fascinating reminder about the importance of friends. After listing everyone in David's royal cabinet, the writer adds, “and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend." We all need a Hushai, a close friend in whom we can confide.  At the same time, we must remember that there is no way one friend can give us all we need. We need community. If you want to dig deeper on friendship, you can click here for a great post by my friend, Mark Eckel.

3. Get some rest

“Two hundred stayed behind … too exhausted to cross.”  1 Samuel 30:9-10 Legendary NFL Coach, Vince Lombardi, said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Something tells me that David understood the relationship between physical exhaustion and fear. When some of his troops were too beat to pursue their enemies, David left them behind to guard the supplies and rest. Good leadership is understanding the importance of capacities – yours and others. In Psalm 127, God tells us it is vain to burn the candle at both ends and that sleep is one of his daily gifts. Don't ignore that gift.

4. Re-engage in your work

“Bring me the ephod . . . So David set out . . .”  1 Samuel 30:7-9 David took time to grieve, but then he re-engaged. He sought the LORD, and after getting the green light from God, set out after his enemies. Leaders cannot sit licking their wounds forever. They must get back in the saddle and ride. Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

What lies within the believer is not mere emotional gusto, but the Spirit of the living God -- the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11). Relying on His help, the leader can re-engage.

5. Evaluate your replenishment strategy

"He restores my soul."  Psalm 23:3 The metaphors David uses in the Psalms tells me that he spent time in nature. Spending time in the great outdoors seemed to be a part of his replenishment strategy. Jesus did this too. Luke tells us that Jesus "would withdraw to desolate places and pray" (Luke 5:16 ESV). 

What refreshes you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically? How are you getting that? Leaders need a strategy to fill their tanks. Click here if you want help developing your replenishment strategy.

What's your next step?

Responsibility, relationship, rest, re-engage, replenishment! Which of the 5 "Rs" should be top priority in your life? What "next step" should you take to get your groove back, or to help ensure you don't lose it?

We are all going to lose our spiritual groove from time-to-time. If it happened to David, it can happen to you! But with God's help, you can get it back. And that's important. Your leadership depends on it.