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The Top Disciplines That Help Me Survive the Daily Grind of Ministry

Discipline #5: Sleep Enough

It’s ironic that as I type these words, this is one of those sleep-deprived days for me. Last night I didn’t sleep well (and I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get my son to the airport for a mission trip flight). I can sure tell the difference between today and a typical day where I do get enough sleep.

Sleep is our natural reset time. We data dump in our sleep. God has designed our minds to forget the forgettable when we are sawing logs. It’s also when our bodies are re-energized. Body builders know this. Working out with weights actual tears your muscle fibers. But when you sleep, your body rushes all sorts of good things toward those tears to repair them. The body building actually happens when you sleep, not when you work out!

Getting enough sleep keeps your mind clear which helps you produce better work and do better ministry. I’m convinced it also helps you do a better job of fighting off temptation and praying with more clarity. As 1 Peter 4:7 reminds us, “Be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”

Discipline #6: Eat 100 Percent Healthy, 80 Percent of the Time

I first heard this phrase from Doug Fields and it clicked in my soul…and then made me hungry for a Big Mac. The key is that the vast majority of my eating centers around good food, not the artery-clogging, energy-zapping stuff. And if the vast majority of what I eat is healthy, then I can pretty much eat whatever during those blessed “20 percent times” of sheer fatty joy.

Eating well helps us feel well. Feeling well helps us to serve God well.

Discipline #7: Write

Writing is cathartic for me. It enables me to clarify and codify my often random thoughts and feelings into chiseled words, sentences and paragraphs.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why I blog, to get these thoughts out of the swirling craziness that is my brain onto digital paper. The process helps me tremendously. I pray that in the process of reading my musings, you have been helped as well!

It’s also one of the reasons that I love the Psalms. In those blessed pages we get to read David’s authentic and unfiltered “blogs.” We get to feel how he was feeling. Whether it be his relentless praise to God or his raw anger toward his enemies, he put it all out there for us to enjoy and learn from. In the process he was able to “shepherd up” and be the worship/warrior who defeated giants and conquered kingdoms for the glory of God.

Writing can be one of those disciplines that helps you manage when life gets messy. If nobody else reads your blog or journal or whatever…you do and God does. And, at the end of the day, that’s enough.

These seven disciplines help me cope. They ground me. God uses the benefits of each to navigate the many stresses of ministry.

What do you think of these disciplines? Which one resonates most with you (or least with you)? What are some of your personal disciplines that help you navigate the stresses of ministry?