Feeling tired and like you’re not enough? Return to the basics

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Feeling tired and like you’re not enough? Return to the basics

October 20, 2022 -

© Wayhome Studio /stock.adobe.com

© Wayhome Studio /stock.adobe.com

© Wayhome Studio /stock.adobe.com

Everyone needs an extended vacation but life doesn’t stop. What should we do?

Since moving to my current city and church twenty-five years ago I’ve tried to find ways to be a redeeming helper beyond the walls of the church I pastored. I was invited early on to join any of the three or four civic clubs in our community that do many good things for good purposes. When I looked around the room at those gatherings, I realized that they were largely populated by people who were servants and leaders in the churches of our town. I decided I wanted to get into a slightly different environment. That led me to volunteer for over five years with the Chamber of Commerce, which I greatly enjoyed. In addition, like many pastors, I have served on a decent number of committees and boards in my town. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed them all and my wife graciously supported my involvement which often took me away from her and family duties. We are a team.

Lessons from a hospital advisory meeting

In recent years I’ve had the honor of serving on the advisory board for one of our local hospitals. I’m blessed to live in a large city suburb that has several great hospitals providing some of the best healthcare in the nation. The hospital where I volunteer is top flight. I can say that as a board member and as a patient. In 2020 alone, I or a family member was in this hospital every quarter of the first year of the Covid pandemic—and none of the stays were Covid-related.

At the most recent advisory board meeting, we continued to discuss the realities of local healthcare in this somewhat post-Covid world. With all respect to President Biden’s declaration that “Covid is over,” it doesn’t look that way at the table of hospital administration. One major concern dominates the ongoing battle of infection control against all diseases and Covid: Having enough workers. Does this sound like church ministry to you, pastor? At church, we must learn how to protect against spiritual disease, and to do that we need workers. Every pastor I know is obeying Jesus’ instruction to “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2.

(Note: For an extended season, I asked my staff and leaders to stop at 10:02 AM every morning and pray that God would raise up more eager and equipped workers for the ministry we were doing for Christ. There never seems to be enough.)

The desperate need for good workers

What I heard at the hospital board meeting was the same thing I was hearing from my wife’s office at the local school district. Both had the same refrain I hear loudly from the church house, “There are not enough workers to meet the need; many of the new workers arriving need ongoing training and time to do their best work, and those still at their post are generally, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and relationally exhausted.”

(Note: you surely have heard that between forty and sixty percent of ministers have considered quitting in the last year. The number is likely higher, but most have NOT quit and likely won’t for several reasons.)

The lack of good workers seems to plague all kinds of businesses and industries. My recent experience has been that customer service is lacking everywhere, whether I’m trying to get a hamburger or a hammer. Just yesterday, our pharmacy shut down in-store operations due to a staff shortage. They could only man their drive-through window which resulted in cars lined up around the building!

Life and ministry keep going. We are tired or numb, and Sunday’s coming! What are we to do?

Back to the basics

My first suggestion also comes from the hospital board meeting. The staff is initiating a “back to basics” plan. The basics vary a bit from industry to industry, but we know some of them for ministers and ministry.

For all believers its starts with consistent personal prayer and bible study. The personal basics include intentional relational time with family and friends. There needs to be a ’basic’ plan for sleeping, eating, and exercising. Having a hobby that renews us several times a month and taking our vacation time is essential. It might also be time to discuss a sabbatical with your leaders.

The ministry basics involve enlisting, equipping, and encouraging (both in person and virtual) fellow servants, weekly corporate and creative worship centered on Christ and Biblical preaching, healthy small groups, children and student ministries, missions, evangelism and outreach. Every football team starts and succeeds with effective blocking on the offensive line and tackling on the defensive line.

We must also remind each other often to extend mercy and grace through kindness to everyone. Everyone needs our patient, gentle kindness because essentially everyone is having a hard time. I believe history will record that we are living, surviving, and hopefully learning together to overcome a very disruptive time. Only time will tell.

I was challenged as my friend preached this past Sunday from Galatians 5:22. He urged us to not let kindness become an underrated spiritual fruit. He called on us to make kindness a real action by looking for the physical needs of others we can address, being sensitive and matching the emotional level of others, and being mindful of the words we speak and the tone we use in all our conversations. Those are a few great basics.

The blessing of good preaching

Finally, I’ve found it helpful to come back to the well of great preaching. I love it. My favorite preacher is now in heaven and a few other preaching heroes I had have been otherwise silenced. But recently I found an August sermon by my friend, Dr. Joel Gregory, Professor of Preaching at George W. Truett Seminary at Baylor University. The message was offered at Koinonia Church in Greenville, N.C., and is titled “Eyes of the Heart.

Taken from Paul’s prison prayer in Ephesians 1, Dr. Gregory did a masterful job teaching us to pray in fresh ways for a fresh view of God’s Hope, God’s definition of our identity, and God’s unlimited power.

I urge you to listen as a personal or family time of worship.

Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? Get back to the basics.

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