Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Lipscomb student called me this afternoon to interview me for a class he's taking on Spiritual Formation. He asked some questions like, "How do you stay filled up? What are some spiritual practices you have implemented that breed Spiritual formation in you? How do you pray? What are the spiritual disciplines that work well for you?" Things like that. Whew!

So, I began to tell him some things that I've found helpful and some ways that I can keep a gauge on where I am. Then I spoke to him of the danger (he wants to be a minister) in ministry to busy ourselves out of spiritual disciplines. They can all be good things too---calling people on your care needs list, planning worship, listening through new worship CDs for ideas, planning conferences, working on praise recordings, having "creative team" meetings, staff meetings, pre and post service meetings, returning ministry related email, arranging worship songs, etc. You see where I'm going. Does this sound like someone you know? Hmmmm? Sounds a bit familiar to me. Many of those things are important and have to get done, but there are other things that are of equal importance that we must allow to guide our scheduling.

Don Finto has often said to me, "When you feel burn-out coming, it may mean that you're doing things in your own strength instead of the Lord's." So true. While I intellectually know that, I think it's also easy to get caught up in the busyness of ministry life and miss the heart of it.

Bill Hybel's book, Courageous Leadership is a must-have for everyone in ministry. There's a chapter called "The Art Of Self-Leadership" that is fantastic. While it sounds a bit narcissistic, it's critical to the long-term fueling of any minister. The premise is basically that in order to effectively follow your calling and live a life of public ministry, you must make sure that your inward compass is on target. Who's going to do that for you? No one. You are the one in charge of that. Just as Jesus took time away...he had a pattern, ministry and teaching and then retreat. We MUST take time to feed the soul.

One thing that I find difficult...wonder if any of you have felt this the guilt principle. I am a real sucker for guilt. Why? Because I want people to think I'm doing my best. I have a desire to be liked. I struggle with people-pleasing. So, guilt works well on me. I've gotten a lot better as I've aged, but still find it's an issue. For instance, many people outside of ministry will look at those inside ministry and say things like, "What does he do all day? Just read the Bible? What a job! I'd love to do that!" Or... "Why does he need a sabbatical? He doesn't really do anything!" So, in retrospect I find that often times I have willingly charged ahead into busyness trying to prove something. I mean what did I think...Oh, if I could only die of exhaustion then that would show them! Retarded. I know many ministers who struggle with this same issue. But, what Hybels would say is...those people are not going to come to you and say, "Brandon you should take some time--time to really listen for the Lord." No--we must do that for ourselves. We must honor the Spirit of God enough inside of us to make the difficult call to stop and listen.

I'm standing up saying, "Hi, my name is Brandon. I'm a stress-a-holic." The Lord is patiently teaching me to wait. To listen. To be still. To shut my mouth. To get on my face. To lay down all ministry accolades. To seek Him first. He's so patient! Hallelujah!!


Stephen Bailey said...

So glad you are taking the time to refuel. I hope you can make a trip to Texas! I'll start filling your schedule for you while you're here!
Seriously, you even have to be faithful with your time off.
You know me, I'm a lot like you in this regard, I just couch it in different terms. I say I have an overactive responsibility gene. I see other people blow things off that I can't leave undone! It's a sickness really, but people like me...well, some people like me...okay, a few people?

k2 said...

"Because I want people to think I'm doing my best. I have a desire to be liked. I struggle with people-pleasing."


i struggle hard at this. see, i do the media shout presentations for the congregation that i am a member of. i also do the sermon presentations for bruce, our senior minister. i have a hard time letting someone else do it "because i know how its supposed to go." why am i such an idiot? the worship is for God, not the congreagtion. but i struggle with having it look good. i mean if there is one typo, i beat myself up.

my family hardly has time for just having fun. my wife is the church secretary, and she is either preparing something for the weekend, or we are working something during the weekend. we don't have time to get away. that is so necessary ... to get away. like you said, "Jesus did it."

thanks for this post.

Sarah said...

"Counter-intuitive" is one of my favorite phrases and I think it so aptly describes what it is for the pressures of the world to continue to build up and you know you must take time away. My favorite time to think of Jesus going away alone is after he fed the 5,000, then did some healing, people said, "SURELY he is the son of God." He was at the top of his game -- so he went away alone. You KNOW people were looking for him, you KNOW there were other people to heal, you KNOW people needed to hear his words -- but he knew he was no good without time with his Father.

As you can tell, this is my soapbox -- b/c it's a disease/illness we're all afflicted with. Thank you for sharing your struggles with it!

Katherine said...

Great post, my friend-I can relate in so many ways. In fact, I am on a sabbatical right now-not exactly by my choice, but I think rather by the Lord's-I am trying to take advantage of it, but I have some of the same tendencies you do-so it has not been easy.

I do have to remind myself that Jesus DID rest, and God rested after He created the world. I reached the burn out point last month-therefore the month off. I pray that you are able to take some time to rest and rejuvenate yourself! God bless~

Dan Dalzell said...

Brandon, I'm often in the same situation you describe -- really busy and doing good things (lots of church and worship planning/leading things), but not always doing the most important things on our mission. Your post today helped remind me to get back on balance.

Keith Brenton said...

I just wanted to say thank you for your candor and for being willing to write about something that has both touched and stung me - and obviously some others - in a sensitive spot.

And I wanted to ask a question:

Can you ask readers of your blog to pray for creamed corn?

When you hear the sound of the can opener grinding and you know a big ol' tin of it is going to be opened up?

Can you ask 'em to pray about it even when they don't know what brand it is or whether it's got red and green peppers? Because God knows what they're praying about even when they don't?

'Cause I think I can hear in my local kitchen that sound of the puncturing blade on metal and the little sigh of escaping air just before the beginning of the grind ....

Brad Crisler said...

wow! Obviously you struck a chord with some of us. I have tendencies toward being an ocd/perfectionist/people pleaser. It's a lot to live up to. Impossible. For me it goes back to my motives. If I realize I'm doing something ultimately to please a human, I need to seriously re-evaluate. If it's to please God, then praise God! But I have to keep a constant check on myself or I get quickly overwhelmed. Thanks for letting us share this burden and confession with you. Dawn

Brandon Moore said...

What a great post! I'm going into the ministry and I need more posts like this in blogs!