A car battery keeps its voltage when the car is running because a magnetic field is created by the alternator to keep it charged. If the alternator breaks down, the battery will be drained. Alternators are critical to the lifespan of a battery.
Think of your life as a battery that needs to maintain its charge. Many things can drain our battery such as stress, financial woes, jobs, world events, health issues, etc. However, I want to focus on something that can create a significant drain on our battery—people.
People are integral to the life of a leader. You can’t be a leader and hate people. Leaders can’t insulate themselves from people. It’s what leaders do—interact and engage with others. But the type of people and the time we spend with them is a stewardship we can’t ignore. All we have is 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. To be an effective leader requires balance in choosing the people we engage with. I’m not talking about favoritism or partiality toward different classes of people; I’m referring to protecting the life of your battery.
I’ve discovered five types of people in our lives. Three of them provide positive charges like an alternator to our battery, another provides no charges to our battery, and the last one drains the voltage from our battery. Here’s how I break it down:
Mentors in my life add three charges to my battery. +++
Peers in my life add two charges. ++
Mentorees I invest time into add one charge. +
People among the faceless masses add zero charges. 0
Needy people in my life subtracts charges from my battery. –
I once found myself emotionally drained and didn’t know why. I mean, drained all the time. I shared this with an older pastor who then asked me what my counseling load was like. I carried a load of three daily counseling sessions in addition to sermons to prepare, lessons to develop, and the daily administrative duties of the church. I was draining my battery without being recharged by the top three types of people.
If all you do in a day is fill up your time with people who add no charges and drain your energy, your charge will rapidly diminish. We need mentors (+++) in our lives, even in books from those who’ve gone before us (reading their books to receive charges of wisdom and encouragement). We also need peers (++), those at the same level of growth in their life’s journey as we are. We can find peers who challenge and sharpen us as “iron sharpens iron” at our jobs, our discipleship groups, our church family, Bible studies, and small groups. Finally, we need mentorees (+), those we invest in, but who are not a drain on our battery. With these top three positive charges remember this simple statement: reach up, reach out, reach down.
As for the bottom two levels, we’ll always have people (0) who neither add a charge nor take anything from our batteries. We’ll also always have the needy (-), who are important for us to help, but we can’t help every needy person on the planet. We must discern, balance, and limit unnecessary intrusions. We must recharge. Even Jesus withdrew in a boat or to isolated places from the masses to recharge his battery and the disciples’ batteries. Leaders must understand their limitations and steward their time to include healthy “alternators” to keep charged and not inundated by the “terminators” of battery life.