Adrenaline vs. the Holy Spirit

Our American ministry landscape is filled with strong, competent, visionary pastors and leaders who have an unending passion to build and equip the local church and subsequently the Kingdom of God. There is no shortage of ideas, dreams, plans, strategies, and innovations. What is missing or what is being missed, in some cases, is a sustainable fuel source.

It is hard for many Type A, driver personalities to distinguish between competitive adrenaline and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Most of the leaders of “successful” ministries were once either competitive athletes or high academic achievers who were driven to succeed by sometimes-overworked adrenal glands. I was doing some research on this topic for a message to pastors at our upcoming New Life Leadership Conference. Here are some of my findings:

You may be experiencing adrenal fatigue if you regularly notice one or more of the following:

1. You feel tired for no reason.

2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.

3. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.

4. You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.

5. You crave salty and sweet snacks.

6. You feel more awake, alert, and energetic after 6 P.M. than you do all day.

This sounds like a lot of pastors and church leaders, doesn’t it? I wonder how many of us are running on the wrong batteries. Our bodies will simply stop working if we continue to abuse our adrenaline glands with unnecessary stress. That is a medical fact.

There is good news, though.

If we will lean solely on the Holy Spirit to empower us for ministry, we can all cross the finish line with our bodies, our marriages, and our families in thriving, good health.

There are some signs that point to an unhealthy dependence on adrenaline:

1. We long for the applause of the crowds, and therefore, we crave the attention of the stage. Can we sit in the audience and let others teach and speak without a compulsion to take over?

2. We have to be super excited about every Sunday gathering, as if it were the spiritual Super Bowl. Every. Single. Week.

3. We cannot take a day off without feeling some guilt, and missing a Sunday is almost unthinkable. We really believe the church cannot survive without us being there.

Adrenaline is available in only limited quantities, but the Holy Spirit is like a well that overflows and never runs dry. Let’s all take a long look at what is fueling our mission and our work. Let’s lean into the right source so we don’t run out of steam just as we head down the home stretch.  

Previous articleWhy Leadership Tension Is Good for You
Next articleTop 10 Temptations Leaders Must Confront'
Brady is the Lead Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. He is married to his college sweetheart, Pam and is the dad to great kids named Abram and Callie. He just wrote a book called "Fear No Evil" and he's really serious about caring for the people of Colorado Springs by opening numerous Dream Centers.