Monday, November 2, 2015

The Struggle Is Real

I recently presented a proposal to my management team (think leadership board) to make the case to them that I could use a sabbatical. Apparently church planting takes a particular toll on you. Pepper in the unexpected loss of a parent and the prolonged unstable state of a daughter and there is reason to think that a breather might be a wise move.

The Chair of the board rejected my proposal.

Not what you think.

Ironically my proposal for a sabbatical rest had six objectives that I planned to accomplish while I was on break, one of which included the small, insignificant feat of writing a book. It might go down as one of the most ambitious, non-rejuvenating, task-driven sabbatical proposals in the history of the world.

And this is the curse of the apostolic (think pioneering/innovative starter type) leader. Even when I intentionally try to build in rest, I fill it with unrest. For years, every relationship I've had has been tagged with an agenda. How can I help them? How can they help me?

The exact personality type that makes me an effective church planter will cause me to gain the world and lose my soul.

But the world we live in doesn't celebrate or highlight pace or steadiness. It tends to celebrate hustle. It features ambition. It extols achievement. Church world is often no different. Have you hit this growth goal? Have you had breakthrough here? Have you created a leadership pipeline? How's your generosity as a church?

There is a nagging tension between who I am and what I do.

I meet someone new at Celebration on a Sunday morning. I ask them what they do or what their major is. Even the way we communicate about our Missional Communities...we say "they are groups of 15-40 folks who DO Life together and serve together in an intentional, relational way."

I mentor/tutor three 4th graders. And the goal in my mind is to help them up their game academically so that they can discover opportunities they may not be able to ACHIEVE without growing academically.

We have people over for dinner all the time and there is virtually always a purpose...to check on a marriage...to encourage the weary...to challenge the complacent...to invite people into a better story than the one they are living currently. To pray for the defeated, the sick, the anxious and depressed. All those things are good and necessary things but they aren't the only thing. I'm addicted to activity. I see pawns where God sees people.

This more than any other battle is trying to steal my life.

The rhythm and balance between REST and WORK.

It's the story of Mary and Martha.

God is equally concerned with what I am doing as He is with who I am becoming.

I see so many friends who are built and wired to hustle going for it and then running out of steam...stumbling into depression or marriage counseling...or quitting one thing to start hustling after the next, big, new thing and its in large part because rest is not a large part of their story. When I say rest, I don't mean vacation, though if you don't use all of your allotted vacation days in a year, you are probably consumed by Doing. Nor do I equate rest with 72 hour Netflix binges.

If Work is about the hustle and the strive. Then, rest is about the peace and the delight.


I think hustle is a good and necessary thing. Some people will have regret at the end of their life because did little to make the world better.

I think rest is a good and necessary thing. Some people will have regret at the end of their life because they didn't invest in real relationships and they never drank deeply from the well of the Divine.

Those who live abundantly find the rhythmic sweet spot of being changed and being change, of resting and working, of abiding and bearing fruit, of inhaling God's Spirit and exhaling God's will.

Confessions of a driven-goal oriented-ambitious workaholic:

I believe that this rest thing is a lot of work.

And I believe that to be good at this work thing requires a lot of rest.

What do words like rhythm and cadence and balance look like for you?

For me, I've had to create a space to remind me that the struggle is real.



Every day I spend time in both sides of my office. And every week, I post a Scripture or quote that applies to each side of the room to keep me continually focused.

Workaholics, what does it look like to catch your breath, listen to God in solitude and find rejuvenating rest?

Those who default to being/resting, what does it look like to go and live with purpose in a world that is desperate for good news?

3 comments:

Jimi Vanderpool said...

I feel like you were talking directly to and about me. Although I'm flattered, it's eye opening. I like to say I rest on Sundays, but what does that mean? I play in the band, set up, tear down, hurry to meet someone for lunch before we hurry home to feed the dogs and maybe squeeze in a relaxing walk before I head upstairs to tackle emails that came in that day and prepare for the week. That's just on Sunday. Rest needs to be daily, too. If Sundays aren't bad enough, I definitely fail at the daily resting cycle.

Thank you, again, for your pensive thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I would recommend getting some spiritual direction. Though I am not a pastor, I am in full time ministry and have a special needs child. The demands can be overwhelming. You need some time to experience God in a different context.

Please check into a consult with charlievensel.com. Charlie is a pastor of a church plant and spiritual director who recently needed a sabbatical, so I think he would be perfect to speak to the needs of your soul. Charlie is wise and discerning. He has a real interest in seeing men grow in their masculinity, being led by the hOly spirit.

I encourage you to consult with him.

Daniel Burton said...

Never forget to have a rest after long day of hard working. But this statement can be used just in case you working and working hard. If you just stay at home for all the day and the only thing you do is get up and take a bottle of beer from the fridge. There are many theology paper topics that I can talk about. But I hope you understand my position. God bless you and your family.