I am not sure why I still haven't learned. Guess the "old dog, new tricks" saying is applicable to my life. Ministry excites me. I love being creative, love working with people and, most of all, I love seeing people come to know Jesus. I eat, sleep, and breathe ministry. There is always more to be done and more that I should be doing. It....never...ends.
After having bumped my head against the proverbial wall a few times, this old dog has finally learned. I've learned that, given the opportunity, the church will own me. Not that they mean to, but because I've allowed it. I've allowed myself to become so caught up in what's next and what I've still yet to do that I am not trusting God with my schedule.
I'm convinced more than ever that the health of our physical bodies, our families, and the church that my days off and regular vacation time are critical.
Leaders, I challenge you to take this seriously. Maybe you could learn from my mistakes...Taking your day off, vacation days, and other times away will make or break your ministry.
Flashback 8 years. My oldest kids were 2 & 3. I'm jugging the life of full time pastor, mom of two toddlers, am finishing my Masters Degree, and am serving on various district committees. I was wearing my super pastor cape pretty well. Until one day when I realized I simply could not continue at the pace I was going. The thought of going one more day seemed to weigh upon me. I didn't know if I had the strength to take one more step. It hurt to think about the future. I began to suffer mild panic attacks and was unsure of my call. I wondered if, perhaps I'd misunderstood God's call upon my life.
I had not taken my day off consistently in years. "I'll do it next week" or "just this time I'll switch my day off from Tues. to Thurs." I know that you can relate.
These painful words are from my journal dated 11-09-04 "I have been running at such a hectic pace doing your work that I have forgotten about the One whose work I do.....It scares me how empty I'm feeling. Please fill me up. Help me to stop the noise and clutter in my life long enough to be still."
After an extended sabbatical time away from ministry, I came to this realization: God never intended that I do His work at the pace I had been, all the while insisting it was His work. He could no longer do a work in me because I was so
very empty. Learn from my mistakes.
1) Take days off: seems like the ideal that will not realistically happen. But, DO IT. Put it on your calendar each week and DO IT. To not do so is being a poor steward of the time you've been given. To not do so also means that we're not trusting God with the number of hours He gives us each week as being sufficient. Trust God with the number of hours He gives us as being adequate.
2) Accept responsibility: the pace at which we're running is our own doing. Don't blame it on God or His call. Accept responsibility and make necessary changes for sustainability in ministry. Take care of yourself. It's your calling too.
"The pace at which I'm doing the work of God is killing God's work in me." (Fil Anderson) became my mantra in 2004. I will no longer live like that. God isn't calling me to sacrifice myself, my health, or family because I am fulfilling His call to ministry. He's calling me to experience true joy as I enjoy the wonder of ministry, seek to love the life He's given to my family, and to manage all that He's given to me as a good steward would.
How about you? Are you tired? Overworked? Trying to figure out how to squeeze it all in? What do you do to be about the work of ministry while guarding yourself
**"Running on Empty: Spiritual Contemplative Spirituality for Over-Achievers" by Fil Anderson is, hands down, one of the best books I've ever read in ministry on this subject.