Have you ever run out of gas? I did once. I was driving a 2 hour trip from Birmingham to Madison and my mom was with me. Mom noticed the gauge was close to empty and suggested we stop. I didn’t want to stop on I65 for gas. My preference was a different location. We were already late and had an agenda. And I felt sure I could make it. We almost made it but the car stopped soon after exiting the freeway. Bummer. Running out of gas was a much bigger setback than if I had taken just a few minutes to fill up.
Driving on empty is not smart. Leading on empty is less smart. Did you know that the majority of Christian leaders burn out? The research is startling. Few finish well. Just as I had a choice to fill up with gas and avoid running out, you too can choose not to burn out in ministry. The choice is ours.
Make the decision not to lead on empty. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Make the decisions today that will help you go the distance. Here are 6 decisions that are necessary to stay fueled…
1. Guard your time with God. Choose to make your time with God a priority over anything else. A daily devotional time with the Lord in prayer and His Word will enable you to minister from an overflow of your walk. Without plugging into the power source we minister in the flesh. Preparing for a sermon, Bible study or any other type of ministry is not a quiet time. I’ve known plenty of people in ministry burn out who were actively studying and teaching the Word but were not spending personal devotional time in the Word.
2. Choose your inner circle carefully. Everyone needs an inner circle. Finding one can sometimes be a challenge but it is a necessary part of refueling. The inner circle is a topic I will blog about next month.
3. Be willing to unplug at least once a year. I choose to go dark at least once every 12 months. During this time I don’t email, blog, twitter, FB, or take ministry phone calls. I totally unplug for an extended period of time. In case of a real emergency there is at least one person I trust who can reach me. The extra time this allows is great for refueling.
4. Protect one day a week. If we want to model obedience to God and His Word we will take one sabbath a week. If you are in full time ministry this will not be Sunday. You are cheating your family when you don’t do this. My children feel very loved and affirmed when I don’t engage in ministry on this day. Kids are smart. They know when you make them a priority and they know when you don’t.
5. Be willing to say no. You can’t do everything and do what God called you to do. If you don’t design your life other people will be happy to. Just say no.
6. Keep growing. What is your personal growth plan? A leader who stops growing stops leading.
These are what I feel are the top 6 decisions we can make to refuel. Which one is the greatest challenge for you personally? Our decisions will determine our destination.
Have you experienced burn out? Would love to hear what helped you to refuel.