Do you remember the saying, "you can never have too much of a good thing?" Well, in some instances, that can spell disaster, particularly in ministry.
We are a society that believes the larger the initiative, and the more you do, the better. But in many cases doing more means achieving less. An increased number of events and doing things on a grander scale gives us a false sense of effectiveness. This type of thinking extends beyond secular culture and has infiltrated the church and various ministry organizations as well.
Many people who serve in ministry feel overloaded and fatigued. They go from one big project to the next. They are spread thin, and their leadership suffers. Instead of undertaking a few high-quality ventures that spur transformation, they crank out program after program that has minimal impact, leaving them and their people tired and overused.
More+Bigger DOES NOT EQUAL Better!
You can be a relevant church or ministry organization without overloading your team...
A few years ago, I knew that I was in danger of burning out. I was working full time in pastoral ministry. On top of my responsibilities at the church, I was coaching clients, completing all the requirements necessary to maintain my coaching credentials, serving as associate staff for a national organization, and I was helping my denomination build a disciple-making culture. These were all good things, but the amount of work was crushing me.
At the same time, God was inviting me to create space and margin to nurture some other pieces of me. I sensed a need to have bits of time that were unspoken for woven in my week. It was a way to let my life breathe. I wasn't sure what I was going to do in these cracks and crevices and had a hard time justifying using precious time in this way. Space to breathe is a necessity, but I struggled to carve out this healthy rhythm.
I was afraid.
I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace. Honestly, I didn’t want to anymore. But I was afraid that if...
I didn't know what I was getting into when I began my ministry. I had not spent much time "behind the curtain" and was surprised to find that many people in the congregation I led were still exploring a relationship with Jesus. It seemed strange that after being in the church for so long, they could be in this stage, but it also was exciting. People were hungry to know Jesus intimately. I immediately kicked it into high gear and poured myself completely into helping them.
It all seemed like a worthy cause. What else could be more significant than to walk alongside a group that is actively seeking the Lord? But as time went by, I found myself giving up other pieces of me. I didn't spend much time cultivating relationships with friends outside of the church. I didn't take time to rest. I left books that were not related to ministry on the shelf. I skimped on my time with the Lord. There was always a good reason to keep on serving.
I began to believe that this was the cross of ministry...
“Self-care is never a selfish act-it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” ~Parker Palmer
Taking care of yourself often seems like a guilty pleasure. In our fast-paced world, we fill every moment, and expend all of our energy, while wishing there were more hours in the day. We scrape the bottom of the barrel, trying to muster up more stamina and strength to get through, only to rise and grind all over again.
As we push ourselves beyond the limits that God created for us, we wound our body, soul, and mind. Even worse, we carry that woundedness into our relationships, activities, and ministry. This is the way of the leader, we say. Always giving, never ceasing, going above and beyond. So off we go, in our self-inflicted woundedness, carrying it as a badge of honor.
Why do we do this?
We have convinced ourselves that we are not allowed to care for ourselves. We believe the lie that...
When I began my journey in pastoral leadership, I believed that to be a good leader, I needed to be available all of the time. I would meet people or attend meetings on my day off. I'd keep my phone on and close by so I could answer every call. I would check my email every day, sometimes late at night, just in case. When I was in my office, in the spirit of openness and transparency, I would allow anyone to come in at any time. I never wanted to be off-limits.
It was exhausting.
Being "on-call" nonstop interfered with essential ministry functions like my preparation for sermons, bible study, and meetings, it compromised my relationships and my family time, and it chipped away at my sanity. I needed space and quiet to let ideas percolate. I wanted to be able to work out and spend time with the Lord that wasn't related to my job. I needed to pick up my son from school on time and have the chance to make a healthy dinner and eat at the table like a civilized human being before getting...
If it's true that what you believe will directly impact the decisions that you make, and influence the outcome of your situation, (which I do agree with), then it is critical to check-in with ourselves, paying particular attention to the places where we are struggling.
Most women in ministry would not say they are thriving. Many feel as if it is all that they can do to get through the day. They are in survival mode, burned out, and depleted. Talking with these women reveals that many, if not most, are believing a lie that is keeping them from thriving.
According to dictionary.com, a lie is "a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood."
Now, if you're like me, you might be thinking that you are too savvy and wise to fall prey to assertions designed to mislead you. But that's the thing about deception. It is subtle and unassuming. It creeps in, disguising the lies as reasonable...expected, yet in reality, untrue. And when we build...
Your frame of mind means everything.
Many of us thoughtfully consider specific strategies that we will implement on the road to healthy balance and boundaries, and while getting clear on what you'll do is important, you set yourself up for failure if you do not get your mind right. Have you decided what you believe as you go on this adventure? Do you understand what lies you allow to sabotage your efforts? These are important questions to ask yourself before you go any further because your mindset matters. Here are three reasons why you want to get your mind right.
It will define the outcome. Your mindset determines whether or not you will make progress and succeed. Your biggest obstacle isn't your schedule, your season of life or the demands placed on you by your ministry endeavors. The barrier you face is...you. What you believe in your mind is the single, greatest variable that will influence the outcome. If you don't think you'll ever really have a sustainable pace...
Do you feel pressed against the edge every single day? Are you burned out because the pace of ministry is unsustainable? Do you have a hard time maintaining healthy boundaries? You are not alone.
As a female pastor, I was overwhelmed with all there was to do in ministry. I had very little blank space on my calendar. I would run from one thing to the next and I’m just going to be totally honest with you…I was so tired. I felt it. I felt it physically in my body, it impacted my mind and I sensed it in my spirit…maybe you do too. In fact, I know I’m not alone. I’ve had countless conversations with other women in ministry who have shared that they too feel overwhelmed and discouraged as they try to manage it all. Many of us feel like it’s all we can do to show up and survive another day. And we feel defeated because we have resigned ourselves to the idea that this is just the way it’s going to be.
And worst of all, we keep it all under wraps....
Are you a person that makes new year's resolutions? Do you vow to undertake a new hobby or create a different habit? Maybe the end of the year is an opportunity for you to decide what you will NOT do in the year to come. Whether or not you announce your intentions as the confetti flies and the champagne flows, my guess is that you do have intentions for the year to come. There are things you want to do differently, and the start of a new year is a wonderful time to get focused on your priorities.
You probably also know that most of us give up on our new year's resolutions by the end of January and go back to the familiar patterns of the past. Change not only takes time but requires tons of intentionality. But soon our resolve dissipates as the daily grind takes over. Days blur into weeks, weeks into months and before we know it another year has gone by. It happens to many of us.
What if I told you that you could establish a rhythm of reflection and review that would help you...
You promise to get to something when things slow down. Maybe it’s the desire to spend more time with God or with your spouse. Perhaps it’s to visit a friend or family member. Maybe you want to work out more consistently or serve your community. All good things, but they simply won’t fit into your schedule. You’ll get to them when the pace slows down.
Except the pace never slows down. It is out of control.
I know there are seasons when it is necessary… for a time…to go fast and furious. The problem is we have created a life that requires us to constantly engage mentally and expend all of our energy. The season of busyness never ends and your soul is feeling the weight of it. And here we are, in the midst of one of the busiest seasons in life and ministry. How will you make sure to catch your breath and regroup before jumping into the next thing? Here is one secret to help you create a healthy rhythm.
My friend Patti first...