As a small church minister, I wear many hats. It simply comes with the territory. You are expected to visit everyone with any kind of need (and be in the office to be available to anyone who comes in), simple maintenance around the building, prepare quality lessons and Bible classes, oversee offices issues like the weekly gathering of information for the Bible….uh, I mean bulletin, and so much more.
This isn’t a gripe about trying to fill all those roles. I have wonderful help with many of them and there aren’t huge demands on my time. My struggle is staying fresh mentally and spiritually. It’s easy to get so caught up in “ministry” that I forget to minister to myself. I can easily make excuses for cutting down on personal study time and prayer time because there is this fire or that event that just absolutely needs my attention for the moment. Suddenly, I find myself getting dry; Not burned out, that is a whole different feeling that so many ministers face, I mean dry.
As ministers we spend our lives filling the buckets of those around us. We care for the sick, struggle alongside those who are hurting, caught up in sin and other emotional/spiritual issue. We work alongside the leaders of our congregation to find a vision for the future, fix the problems of the past, and maintain the direction of the present. It’s a constant, non-stop of giving ourselves to others. It’s what ministers do. It’s what Jesus did!
However, I have learned I am not Jesus. Sometimes I think I am better than Him. What??!! Blasphemy!! Wait, put the rocks down and listen to what I mean. Several times scripture tells us Jesus went someplace alone to pray and spiritually revive himself. When I don’t feel I need to do the same, I am saying I am better that Jesus. In reality, I need to be thinking that if Jesus needed time to refresh and connect with God, why in the world would I think I DON’T need to do that.
Last year was one of the worst dry periods of my life. In the spring to early summer, so many things happened that my bucket ran dry and there seemed to be a huge hole in the bottom I couldn’t plug. By mid-summer, when someone was in need, I would almost weep at the thought of trying to minister to them. I had nothing left to give. I was dry and it took months to get out of that slump.
I had to learn to tell some people no. I had to carve time to just read, study and pray for MY spiritual well-being and finally got to a lectureship that gave me encouragement and fresh legs.
Fellow ministers, don’t fall in that trap. Make sure you find that time to minister to yourself or you will find you can’t minister to anyone anymore. Suddenly dry turns into burnout, and next thing you know, you are looking for greener pastures. Fleeing doesn’t fix the issues. They will show up at the next place too. You have to fix YOUR focus. You aren’t better than Jesus either, by the way.