It was a summer evening on the day before I was to leave for vacation. Beach, here I come! I was excited about time away on the beach with my family, yet I was still at the office. The van hadn’t even been packed, that would come even later in the evening. The 3:30 a.m. alarm to get started was only hours away. What was I doing in the office? I was writing notes, crafting memos, and sending e-mails out. You see, I was younger and believed (incorrectly) that I was responsible for more than I was responsible for. I wanted peace while I was gone, so I wanted “everything covered”, I wanted to anticipate every question and prepare my team with answers for anything that came up. In doing this, I felt the weight of my department on my shoulders. I churned internally with stress. And I wasn’t helping my team either.

Have you ever felt your co-workers, your team, your organization, or your business was all riding on you, and I don’t mean just for a week of vacation? Be honest, many of us have and you know the stress that comes with it. It can work you into knots, which impacts your quality of life. You might even be short tempered at home, snapping at your spouse or children.

I spent most of my career in healthcare, which operates 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The work is ongoing, and it’s passed from shift to shift. Your job is to cover your shift and turn over what’s necessary for the next shift to pick it up and trust them. Yes, even in the middle of the night there is someone on duty covering the night shift. If you don’t want to take everything home with you from work, who has your night shift?

I learned three lessons about the night shift later in my career that I wish I had learned earlier.

  1. Prepare your team – Put your ego aside, stop wanting to be the “answer person”, the “all knowing” and become the teacher they need you to be. Prepare them for when you aren’t around. Teach them to think critically, to ask the right questions for gathering information and how to make decisions. Yes, it’s lonely and scary making decisions, so it’s better that they learn how while you’re around.
  2. Trust your team – Your team won’t operate well if they’re looking over their shoulder. Confidence comes from being trusted. They will do things and make decisions differently than you might, and they might even do them better. One of my sons who coaches high school basketball, is very unlike me. He says very little from the bench during a game. He said his talking and teaching are during practice, providing all the corrections necessary, and during a game he must let go and trust them to execute. What wisdom.
  3. Give God your night shift – While 3rd on my list, it’s the most important one. Stop holding onto things you aren’t responsible for, let God take over. Your job and mine are to work hard, do our very best. Then relax, let go and give it over to Him. Stop losing sleep, He has your night shift.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:13-18

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