Sunday, August 16, 2009

Survival Skills

a Biblical thought...
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28)

a Book thought...
Don't just react to children's problems, but try to plan ahead. Fathers should focus on positive parenting. Don't just react to problems when they occur. (p92)
a Dave thought... Survival Skills for Pastors by James White

1. A regular day off. I take a day off every week, and I'm really off. It's the last part that matters. It's so easy to let ministry tasks, emails, phone calls, text messages, and work demands weave themselves into every nook and cranny of every day. It takes self-discipline and clear intent to actually have a day off. For me, it's Friday, so that I can unwind before our weekend service schedule begins.
2. An annual study break. I take an annual study break of four to six weeks, where I physically relocate. This isn't vacation, but a time of intentional spiritual and emotional renewal for the tasks at hand. Those who teach and lead have to pour out instruction and guidance to others, and need to have annual times not just to rest, but to replenish themselves. This is a time to separate myself from the emotional wear and tear but still invest myself in issues related to ministry.
3. Clear boundaries regarding giftedness. As a pastor, you teach people about spiritual gifts, and the importance of making that gift their area of primary investment. I've had to learn to apply this teaching to myself. There will always be times where you have to serve as needed, but staying primarily within your gift mix is preventative medicine against burn-out, because nothing will drain you faster than operating outside of your giftedness.
4. Emotionally replenishing experiences. I've had to learn to intentionally pursue emotionally replenishing experiences. When you hurt, if you don't find something God-honoring to fill your tanks with, you'll find something that isn't God-honoring. Or at the very least, you'll be vulnerable to something that isn't. I am convinced this is why so many pastors struggle with pornography—it offers a quick temporary emotional lift.
5. Real time with God. The most strategic investment is time with God. But not just any time with God—I must have time with God that touches me at a heart and soul level. Every day, I seek to spend some time pouring out my heart, and in turn, receiving his. Few people had the emotional ups and downs of David, and if you read the Psalms carefully, you see that he poured out his emotions to God in a disarmingly candid way. Learning to pray like David has been healthy for me.

There are so many other investments I have learned to make or seen others make, such as the importance of healthy staff community, safe friends, and effective Christian counseling. They all matter, because the best gift I can give the Kingdom of God as a ministry leader is a healthy, whole, sane me. The hits and hurts of expectations, unsafe people, and crises will never end. But I can be in better shape for them when they do come, and give God my best to still be standing after they are over.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A good word and timely for me. Thanks Dave.

Robyn Clinch