Twice a year I go on a week-long retreat by myself in a hotel or retreat center to pray and plan. Sabbath is a vital part of my life to hear the story of God again and how I fit into it. I enjoy that time of rest for a week as well as the time of Sabbath I get weekly. Yet I realized several retreats back that I needed to figure out the source of what was making me tired. Although I have always retreated, always done a date night, always practiced Sabbath on Fridays, I noticed I was still close to burn-out. My eyes were opened when, while on my retreat, I read an article in Harvard Business Review about managing energy. My mind was blown. I had not realized that energy was just as important—if not more important—to steward as time.
The hard truth is that there were three areas that I had to manage better to have more energy.
Life Givers vs Life Takers
I can meet with two people in a day and the experiences can be radically different. One person is a good conversationalist, makes me laugh and wants to hear what I have to say. The other person interrupts and contemplates what they need to say while I’m talking. He or she always knows the answers. The latter will absolutely drain me of all energy and my soul will feel like a thousand pounds afterward. Although I may have had the same amount of time with both, it makes a huge difference who I meet with.
Life giving people tend to be open, honest and have a pretty healthy level of self-awareness. Life taking people tend to be closed, proud and lack self-awareness. This is clearly not an exhaustive list. You could create your own list in your church of people who give you life and people who take life from you. But to be clear, it’s not necessarily a spiritual thing. There are people who love God but just have some personality hiccups or they’ve had some bad encounters with you in the past, and as a result, they are absolutely draining to be around. Then there are people who could be as far from God as the devil but have personality traits that click with yours. No matter what, you should be aware of who drains you and who brings you life.
If someone drains you and takes life from you, budget them in. I realize that there are people who take more from me so I make sure that I set myself up to meet with them early in the day. I’m clear on how long we’re going to meet and I rarely let them hijack my day.
For some this may sound unspiritual because Jesus was constantly around people and had crowds around him and would steal away in the mornings so he could be available for people. This is true. What also is true is that we are talking about the Son of God who was without sin. Since neither you nor I are the Christ, we should be careful about how and who we spend time with. Far too often we are careful about time spent with someone if it’s a person of the opposite sex. That is wise, of course. To manage your energy well, add draining people to the list of people with whom you need to take care on how your time is spent.