My wife and I fill out a chalkboard calendar on the wall of our dining room every week. It's mostly to preserve our hipster status. We sit down either Sunday evening or Monday morning and we communicate like crazy. Here's what's coming. Here's what I need. Here's the menu for dinner all week. That predictable pattern has been a game changer for our marriage and our family. If you don't tell your time where to go, you'll wonder where your time went.
But Shaina, if you know her, has a not so subtle side. She typically tells it like it is. Grace and Truth. But definitely not cheating anyone on the Truth side. It's what makes her a fantastic leader. I have no doubt she is for me, that she loves me, that she is with me. People love her. But every once in a while, she throws these absolutely, perfectly timed, truth haymakers, gut-check grenades.
Like for instance: Friday is my day off. I am fairly good at guarding this. This week, there were a few schedule conflicts and the huddle I lead could only meet on Friday. So I said yes.
And this is what appeared on the chalkboard calendar:
She baked up a double batch of conviction cookies.
The most important phrase from my time doing some counseling this past year was "SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH".
In other words, pastoral ministry, especially in a discipleship culture in particular demands a significant amount of output. One minute I'm walking through pain or tragedy with someone, the next I'm doing life coaching with someone, the next I'm trying to help folks who have caused relational carnage and have broken relationship with people, the next I'm sitting with someone in depression and helping them to hold on knowing that there is promised land on the other side of wilderness. I go from pastor hat to leader hat to discipleship hat to mediator hat to counselor hat.
And sometimes I love it and sometimes I loathe it. But no matter what, I'm called to it.
For the longest time I have felt a twinge of guilt for saying no to things...for not leading the way in all things...for not being in the trenches at all times...first one there, last one to leave.
But the truth of the matter is that if I live with no margin in my life, I am doing the people I serve a major disservice.
Sometimes the message I convey with my lips is far from the message I convey with my life.
I encourage "all who are weary and heavy burdened" to come to Jesus and he will give them rest. It's the hope filled message for the stressed out, strung out, worn out and burnt out.
And then I work like it depends on me. I believe that in most instances, the needle won't move unless I move it.
Self Care is Not Selfish.
In fact it is the primary strategy toward a lifetime longevity of impact. I can't give others what I don't have. If I don't have margin, rest, revelation, pace, cadence and grace, then chances are I won't be leading others toward those things either.
Self Care is Not Selfish. But you know what is? Self Destruction. If I don't take care of myself and pretend like this ministry and the lives of those around me can only be sustained by my effort, you know how much that sabotages the work of God? If I hustle myself to the point of exhaustion, I send a message to my family and those I lead that some or all of this is dependent on me.
Maybe you're taking on too much, wearing too many hats or believe that more is dependent on you than really is (artificial pressure).
Here are Four truths about REST that might help us move forward
RHYTHMS OF REST BRING RENEWAL
Rick Warren had a simple predictable pattern for creating these rhythms. It was
Divert Daily (find time every day that is focused on being with God).
Withdraw Weekly (honor the sabbath. The best advice I've heard about sabbathing well is if you work with your hands, sabbath using your mind and if you work with your mind, sabbath using your hands.)
Quit Quarterly--Get out of the routine once a quarter. Maybe its a weekend away as a family or a prayer retreat or a marriage seminar or hitting the bourbon trail with some friends. Get these on the calendar before your year even starts.
Abandon Annually--Shut it down. For a week. Or if you're super driven and run at a high pace, take two weeks consecutively. If you can't get away from your work without concern that things fall apart, then you're a lousy leader who doesn't empower or entrust responsibility to others.
I don't know about you, but when I'm on day 10 of 10 straight days grinding through work, I am far less efficient and effective. But give me space to shut my mind off and bounce back? And suddenly I can work at a higher efficiency and the quality of what I can do recharged is far greater than what I could do while abusing caffeine.
I can get more done with God in 1 day than I can get done on my own in 1 year. I don't know why I insist on trying to disprove this through hustle all the time.
SABBATH IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
A friend of mine tweeted not too long ago that there is no greater demonstration in the sovereignty of God than someone who sleeps really well at night. I love that. If God really has this. If He really wants this church to experience lasting vitality more than I do, then why succumb to artificial pressure. If I don't take days off for sabbath, it articulates loud and clear that I don't actually believe that God is in control of my life.
If you keep stressing over your schedule and feeling frantic over your pace, you are communicating that God is either not strong enough to handle what you have going on or that God is not good enough to trust that He has your well being in mind. (Neither of those are very good things for Christians to be articulating.)
TIME OFF IS TIME GAINED
The biggest thing about self care is that it is incredibly strategic. By taking care of myself now, I will be able to continue to take care of others in the future. Urgency is the ultimate saboteur of Longevity. How can we possibly survive and thrive for the long term if we are constantly being bombarded with stress and artificial pressures in the short term.
I heard recently that your life in your 50s is primarily a direct result of how you lived your life in your 30s. If longevity and finishing the race marked out for you are priorities for you, then live your present well.