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3 Steps to Avoiding a Pastoral Energy Crisis

Omni-Competence vs. Team Ministry

No leader is omni-competent. Only Jesus had all the gifts and could function seamlessly in all of them. Yet he, being the omni-competent one, still had a team. His team helped him to maximize his impact. I need a team to maximize impact as well, but I also need a team because I’m an incredibly flawed leader.

If you ask me to sit with you to talk though counseling issues it just rolls off my tongue. I rarely have to pause to gather my thoughts because it’s an area of my giftedness. Now if you ask me to organize a conference, I can pull it off but I will need to be prayerfully reflective and pay attention to every detail.

When I operate outside of my gifts it’s like I’m writing with my left hand being right-handed. When it comes to organizing, on my best day I’m a six on a scale of 1-10. Being self-aware of your weakness and secure in your strengths empowers you to recruit and train other leaders. It is the insecure leader that doesn’t allow strong leaders to flourish around them because they think leading is being omni-competent and in front all the time. The omni-competent leader will be drained because they are pretending to be something they’re not, while consistently operating in areas of weakness.

There are many gift and personality tests, you should take them to be very aware of who you are. Yet all those tests can’t change your heart or how you see yourself. You can’t build a great team and maximize your energy if you’re not secure and comfortable with yourself. The leader has to realize that their identity is hidden in Christ who cried “it is finished” (John 19:30), meaning you no longer have to strive for an achievement to feel accomplished.

Christ completed the work of identity in his death on the Cross so you don’t have to build a large church or following to feel secure about yourself. You don’t always have to be the speaker or administrator. The key to feeling secure is knowing someone did the work for you. In turn, the secure leader can bless, encourage and empower others so they can create a fully functioning team rather than a one man show.

Take a break to recreate

I have a video game on my phone called NBA 2K16. I play it often. Before I started to manage my energy I use to play video games on my phone in shame. Now I play openly and do it as out in the open as possible. I came to the conclusion that throughout the day I had to recreate. My mind was working overtime and I didn’t take enough breaks during my workday.

Some Monday staff meetings are so draining that I go for a walk to get lunch by myself, pull out my phone and play a couple of games. Sometimes I will call my wife, read or pray. But I’m not gonna lie: A lot of times I play NBA 2K16.

I have a devotional every morning and pray regularly throughout the day. My wife and I love each other and talk often, but sometimes what I need in that moment is just a nugget of entertainment.

I have been amazed at how much taking a small break has given me the extra push to accomplish more in my day. Now to be clear: I work out every morning, I’m careful with my diet and I drink a lot of water to stay fresh. Recreation for me is a much more than a game. A video game may not be your thing (maybe it’s hitting a few golf balls, shooting a few baskets, running three miles, etc.) but whatever righteous activity settles your mind and refreshes your energy throughout the day should be done without the slightest bit of shame.

It’s hard to find reliable stats on the rate that pastors actually “burn-out” since burning out is not exactly quitting and quitting is not exactly burning out. What’s clear is that maximizing my life for ministry and burning out are two different things that are often assumed to be the same. When Paul said he was pouring out his life (Phil 2:17) he definitely wasn’t wasting it. Rather, Paul was giving all of himself to the work of God. When I learned to manage my energy, I put myself in a better position to give my best to God, my family and my church.

What are some things you do or could do to give yourself a recharge during your workday to avoid a pastoral energy crisis?

This article originally appeared here.

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