There is nothing better than being a leader in God’s Church. But the question I am often asked is …
How can such an amazing, exciting, honoring position of being a church leader simultaneously be so difficult, stressful and lonely? Being a church leader these days is rigorous. And if you don’t have a plan to stay “stoked” and care for yourself, you will soon discover you can’t care for anyone.
Here are 6 things I have learned about staying refreshed as a ministry leader.
1. Realize that purposeful work creates refreshment.
One of the most important things I have learned about refreshment is that it doesn’t come from doing nothing. I used to believe that in order to be “refreshed” I needed, as much as possible, to do nothing. I need to …
– Completely unplug
– Escape responsibilities
– Release all burdens
The problem is it’s very hard for me to do nothing. I can clearly remember getting very upset that I couldn’t do nothing. And I would become even more stressed and upset because I was failing at doing nothing!
What I learned is refreshment does not come from escaping responsibilities & burdens. I learned that an absence of work will not bring true or lasting refreshment. All of us know this deep down inside.
Have you have ever been on a vacation and escaped from work and responsibility and daily duties? You spent a week in the mountains or on the beach and yet you did not feel refreshed?
In fact, you came home even less refreshed than when you left. Why? It’s because leisure alone is actually one of the greatest obstacles to refreshment!
Refreshment is not the absence of work.
Refreshment is the presence of purpose.
A while ago I spent hours working in the back yard, and in the evening I was dead tired, but I was also very refreshed! It was not due to the absence of work; it was the presence of purpose. I wanted to create a beautiful back yard!
2. Your input must keep pace with your output.
Some of my greatest refreshment on a weekly basis comes through my hobbies and creative outlets.
Here is one of my favorite video clips of Wayne Cordiero at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit several years ago. Wayne has a brilliant way of challenging us to quit running on empty.
3. Learn to say “NO” even when you could easily say “YES”.
My model for the first 15 years of ministry life was that a pastor never says, “NO.” You do whatever you can, for whomever you can, whenever you can. You always accommodate others at the expense of yourself and your family.
Friends, listen, if you never say “NO,” and you try to care for everything, you will soon realize you do not have the capacity or bandwidth to care for anything. I had to spend about 40 hours & $4,000 with a counselor to discover this about myself. My lack of refreshment centered heavily around something called compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue: the emotional stress or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others.
In my efforts to care for everyone … l found myself not really caring about anyone or anything. I was numb. And I realized I did not have an unlimited capacity to care and that I actually had to steward my compassion.
4. Get good at delegating.
“What am I going to own, and what am I going to outsource?” That question should always be on a leader’s mind as you seek to grow your strengths and give away your weaknesses. Delegation is not about dumping tasks; it is about developing future leaders.
5. Add personal, not public, Bible study time to your life.
It is completely possible for you and me to be around the Bible all week, cooking up messages that are full of meat, and yet be malnourished ourselves! It’s possible to preach amazing sermons and nourish your congregation while you die of starvation.
One of the great privileges of being a pastor is spending so much time in the Bible.
One of the greatest curses of being a pastor is that the Bible can become common.
Spending personal study time in the Bible is completely different than spending message and study time in the Bible. It is personal, not lesson related, Bible study that will refresh you and give you the overflow you need to press on and study, prepare, create and preach the Word curiously and powerfully to others.
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
6. Obeyed promptings bring refreshment.
In my estimation there is no better way to be continually refreshed than to have a constant string of obeyed promptings in your life. You have heard me say this many times on Live Curious.
If you have accepted Jesus into your life, been baptized and surrendered your life to Him, the Bible is clear that you have the Holy Spirit of God living in you. The Bible is also clear, throughout scripture, that the Holy Spirit gives promptings to people.
If you are obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God, you are building HIS kingdom. And that is not always easy, but it is always refreshing.
If you do not obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God, you are building YOUR kingdom. And that is not easy and ultimately not refreshing.
The truth is, there are only two kingdoms you can build … yours and His. If you and I are not obeying promptings daily, we are in danger of building our kingdom not His. And you may be “successful,” but you won’t be refreshed!