As a leader in “God’s work”, we can often become so focused on everyone else and what they are needing that our needs and the needs of our spouse and family take a back seat. When we become over-tired, our ability to deal with difficulties, conflict and expectations becomes greatly diminished. We may become frustrated by people or circumstances that normally would not affect us in the same way. We may react in ways that are not becoming a person of the Spirit because our sensitivity to the Spirit is in a weakened state. Exhaustion has detrimental effects on our physical, our emotional and our spiritual being.
Let me suggest three great books that will give you some valuable perspective about setting up solid boundaries in a busy ministry life. You may need a fresh or a new embrace of a regular sabbath and periodic sabbaticals.
“The Rest of God: Restoring your Soul by Restoring Sabbath” by Mark Buchanan (Thomas Nelson 2006)
Widely-acclaimed author Mark Buchanan states that what we’ve really lost is “the rest of God-the rest God bestows and, with it, that part of Himself we can know only through stillness.” Stillness as a virtue is a foreign concept in our society, but there is wisdom in God’s own rhythm of work and rest. Jesus practiced Sabbath among those who had turned it into a dismal thing, a day for murmuring and finger-wagging, and He reminded them of the day’s true purpose: liberation-to heal, to feed, to rescue, to celebrate, to lavish and relish life abundant.
With this book, Buchanan reminds us of this and gives practical advice for restoring the sabbath in our lives.
“Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul” by Mark Buchanan (Zondervan 2010)
‘Abide in me,’ Jesus tells us, ‘and you will bear much fruit.’ Yet too often we forget that fruit needs different seasons in order to grow. We measure our spiritual maturity by how much we do rather than how we are responding to our current spiritual season. In Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchanan replaces our spirituality of busyness with a spirituality of abiding. Sometimes we are busy, sometimes still, sometimes pushing with all we’ve got, sometimes waiting. This model of the spiritual life measures and produces growth by asking: Are we living in rhythm with the season we are in? With the lyrical writing for which he is known, Mark invites us to respond to every season of the heart, whether we are flourishing and fruitful, stark and dismal, or cool and windy. In comparing spiritual rhythms to the seasons of the year, he shows us what to expect from each season and how embracing the seasons causes our spiritual lives to prosper. As he draws on the powerful words of Scripture, Mark explores what activities are suitable or necessary in each season—and what activities are useless or even harmful in that season. Throughout the book, Mark weaves together stories of young and old, men and women, families, couples, and individuals who are in or have been through a particular season of the heart.
“Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion” by Wayne Cordeiro (Bethany House 2009)
Wayne Cordeiro found himself paralyzed by burnout. He had been in ministry for 30 years, and 10 years after founding what is now the largest church in Hawaii, he found himself depleted. Wayne took a season out of his growing ministry to recharge and refocus on the truly important. He was able to get back in touch with his life, get back in proper balance, and re-energize his spirit through Christ in a way that propelled him forward to greater levels of service. Wayne first gave this message at a recent Willow Creek Leadership Summit, where it was the highest-rated presentation by those in attendance. Pulling no punches, Wayne talks about the walls leaders must break through and how to move on with integrity. Included are ways to care for oneself physically and emotionally as well as spiritually.