Are you tired?
Are there some days when you’d like to disappear, rather than get out of bed to deal with your to-do list?
I must confess that I almost burned out on ministry. I lost my passion and joy. For a long time, I thought I had it all together. I was juggling many responsibilities and doing it with flair. But, one day those tasks started to get heavy – the weight of all that I was carrying became too much, but I still struggled to let go. Everything seemed too important to surrender over to someone else, so I trudged on burdened down by own self-imposed expectations for ministry.
Looking back now, I see where I failed to make healthy choices about how I would use my time, talents, and treasure. I invested in Kingdom business, but I did not invest in myself. I forgot that I am important to the kingdom as well. I am God’s holy temple, and I am called to be a steward of my physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being.
If I could sit down with 20 year old me, I would tell her that there are essential habits that will prevent ministry burn out.
1. Sabbath is a commandment, not a suggestion. If you don’t give yourself time to refresh your spirit, your spirit will start to get bitter. Take time to sit in the quiet and let God speak to you. Linger at His feet, listen up, and learn what His agenda is for you.
2. Keep a journal or notebook where you write down how God has worked – prayers He has answered and battles He has won in your territory. Cultivate thankfulness by noting down every day blessings. When you are in the middle of a difficult ministry season, you will need to refer back to your notes often. Besides a journal, I also created a “happy box” where I saved cards, pictures, and mementoes – Revisiting this time capsule at the end of a tough week always put a smile on my face.
3. Put fun on your to-do list. Spend time with people who energize you and encourage your heart. We are not meant to do life alone. Pick up the phone and invite a friend to join you out for coffee or dinner at least once a month. You need to make time for this – if your ministry schedule is too busy for fun, then you are too over committed.
4. Remember that you are serving as unto the Lord. People will disappoint you, but you are not serving people. You may never see the results of your efforts here on earth, but you are called to be faithful to Him. He sees you in the trenches, and your labor is not in vain.
Taking care of yourself is vital to a healthy ministry life. It’s not wrong to slow down and cross some things off of your calendar in order to create space for renewal in your life.
Sometimes, saying no is not unselfish. It’s wise.
Rest cannot and should not be an after-thought on your priority list.