Have you ever felt like you had too many things going on in your life but you were afraid to cut anything out because they all felt important? Fr. Nathan Dail, chaplain of St. Paul’s Catholic Student Center on the Boise State University campus, certainly felt this way. “You have a gut sense that something isn’t working,” he said. “I was going out trying to reach the students on campus and there was very little fruit. I was putting a lot of my time and attention outside of my circle of influence,” Father continued.
No one can become the leader they are called to be without learning the art of saying no in service of a greater yes. The impact of Fr. Nathan being fearful of saying no went beyond his own personal burnout. “People were confused, and there was a lack of communication,” he said. Indeed, a burned out leader creates a burned out team.
Fr. Nathan began attending Pastor Boot Camp with Amazing Parish in July of this year. Learning about circles of influence vs. circles of concern in Boot Camp immediately resonated with Father’s pain point. Fr. Nathan realized that he had taken on too much responsibility. Boot Camp, Father said, helped him to “realign” and made him aware that his circle of influence is actually “way smaller” than he realized. He described previously feeling guilty about turning down requests to meet with him. Fr. Nathan felt a huge sense of relief being given permission to focus on his circle of influence and to say no more often. “It was like someone cutting off shackles. When someone speaks truth to it, in your being, you’re like, ‘YES, THAT’S WHY!’” Father said with energy and passion. “I am more free than ever. That is what I received. Freedom to work within my gifts without guilt.”
Just as Father’s burnout once had an effect on the rest of his team, so too does his transformation. Fr. Nathan said that his team now works with more cohesion and is clear on their responsibilities. He is also much more present and available to support and equip his team to be leaders. “I used to be booked out three weeks out in advance, I felt like a prisoner to my calendar, I was always going from one thing to another. Now, I am available if someone [on my team] really needs me. Amazing Parish allows the priest to have a higher level of self-respect.” “New mentality, new focus, incredible results. The team really gets it and is on board.” Father shared how he continuously cascades the new knowledge he is learning from Amazing Parish so they understand any changes to his leadership approach and the “why” behind it.
Saying no can be nerve-racking for a pastor, but Father pointed out that there is a biblical basis for doing so. “Jesus had boundaries. He had different levels of intimacy with people. You [invest in your team] and empower them to go out!” Attending Boot Camp has allowed Father to see that some good things might be outside of his immediate mission and what he is currently being called to do. He is now at peace with saying no to being burned out and possesses the humility to recognize he can’t do everything. A burned out leader creates a burned out team, but an energized and focused leader creates an energized and focused leadership team. A leadership team that has clarity and alignment, combined with God’s grace, is a powerful force that can transform any faith community, including yours.
Fr. Nathan Dail, Pastor
St. Paul’s Student Center I Boise, ID