Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Finish Well... Take Care of Yourself

I have been in vocational ministry for 27 years. I am certainly not proud of everything I have done in my leadership. I’ve made mistakes and have regrets for things I have left undone, or that I tired to do but should not have even attempted. Just old fashioned mistakes; the kind of things that go with any vocation. But I have lasted. I haven’t quit or fallen by the wayside. I haven’t burned out or flamed out. I have never had to be removed from the ministry because a leadership failure or a moral failure. That’s probably my biggest accomplishment of all – simply lasting.

This is a feat within itself when you consider the following statistics: 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month. Of those who remain, 50% are so discouraged that if they could afford to, would leave the ministry now. Depression plagues 70% of pastors, and half of their marriages end in divorce.

A big part of staying in the race and being able to finish well is learning to take care of yourself. You have to understand how you are wired and give attention to nurturing and replenishing yourself. There are periods of facing temptations; dealing with accumulated hits and disappointments; and the various seasons your family goes through. It’s a very complicated thing to do a long, steady pull for God; not just year-after-year, but for decades. The only way to increase your chances of success is to take responsibility for taking care of yourself. It’s your job. No one else can do this for you. No one else can replenish you.

Spiritual growth......That’s your job.
Getting rest.............That’s your job.
Staying healthy...... That’s your job.
Practicing spiritual disciplines.... That’s your job.
Living your life well....................... That’s your job.
Growing as a leader.................... That’s your job.
Sabbath time............... That's your job.
Telling people no........ That’s your job.
Protecting yourself...... That’s your job.

I think the desire of every pastor and Christian leader is to finish well. We want to have a fuller heart at the end of this race than what it was at the beginning. We want more of the fruit of the Spirit in our life at the end than at the beginning. We want to love God and love people more than we did at the beginning. And we want to be able to look in the rear view mirror and say that we have been faithful for the whole run.

If that’s what you want, then there are choices you have to make between here and there. We have to take care of ourselves; learn to tell people no; and replenish our depleted spirits. Are you willing to disappoint enough people to fight for yourself and take care of yourself? Will you fight for your family and for your own spiritual health?

Do it, and you will finish well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will be praying for you as I know a little about what Pastors go through being that my brother-law is a pastor. I thank you that you don't give up. Oh I am glad that Brad and have not had pop in our house for many years now. We drink Juice, Milk decaf tea and urbal tea. At any rate I wish I was not sick. I do try to eat right and exercise. Oh well mine is brain damage. I still can think some though ha ha