Focus on God, not on being a pastor

 Pastors and Christian leaders commonly think, "I have to act like a clergy at all times?" Wherever a pastor or Christian leader is at the store, church, home, with family or in town, they feel that they have to act as a clergy/pastor persona. Part of this is absolutely true. Once you decide to go into ministry, you put yourself and family under fire and your house is a glass house. All that is true.

This is what I like to call the Pedestal Syndrome. It is frustrating, we (as ministers) tend to put on unreal expectations on our own self!  In reality we are human too. We are not perfect people. Worse, we feel guilty for not meeting those unhealthy expectations. Next this can provoke, a "fake" you....you never really feel free to relax and be yourself, because we feel you "have to be pastor."

Do you remember the call to ministry in your life? Think about your sense of God's call in your life. What passages in the Bible  describe that call? What was your experience life when you knew that you were called? Which biblical figures/characters do you relate with?  Where were you? Put yourself in that place for a moment. What Biblical passages come to mind in regards to your calling?  Recall those Scriptures that really encourage you, even today in your ministry. Write about this experience. It is important to not censor your writing in the process. You are not trying to compose and essay on the call. You are simply writing without stopping for 10 minutes or so. Then go back and read what you have written and see what that evokes in you. if you need to look something up quickly in your Bible that is fine also. Meditatively and prayfully just write, free-flowingly...Don‘t throw away what seems irrelevant. Save it and see what God does with it later.  

Here are some ideas to boost your spiritual thought this week:

Option 1- One practice that can strengthen your own spiritual life is the silent meal. This is frequently practiced in monasteries. There is a freedom in not being expected to speak and interact with others. It offers you an opportunity to draw within yourself.This can be practiced even at a fast food restaurant. Order an inexpensive meal, choose a table, and enter into a time of silence in the midst of the cacophony of the world around you. As you sit down at the table, before you unwrap your meal, begin your prayer time. Begin with prayers for all those who had some part in preparing the meal before you, taking that as far back in the food process as possible. There was someone who has raised the animal or planted and cared for the vegetables that you are about to eat, who prepared the paper, designed the package, etc.
After about ten minutes of prayer, begin to slowly unwrap your simple meal and occasionally take a bite or sip of my drink as you continue your prayers. As much as possible, pray with your eyes closed and your mind totally focused. You might pray for people or situations in your ministry, or pray for colleagues that you know are having a difficult time. Prayer for at least one-half hour from the time that you sit down at the table.

Option 2- Take short periods of time in the beginning. Determine to take a half-hour break in which you will explore how Scripture can speak to you about the attributes of God. Use a concordance to identify some adjectives that praise God. Gather up several of them and then spend some time exploring the nature of God through these adjectives. That might come in the form of a word study or it might be in the form of contemplation around one or two of these adjectives. Whatever your approach,, the purpose is to focus your attention on the wonder of God.

The time limit of one-half hour might even serve the advantage of intriguing you so that you want to set aside another half-hour at another time to continue the experience. Discipline yourself to avoid thinking of how useful your work might be for a sermon, a class, etc. This is time to place yourself purely in the presence of God in a loving way. However you go about it, keep some notes on how it makes you feel. If one aspect of the Sabbath is to step outside of the normal pace of life to nurture relationships, this is a way to begin with a short Sabbath experience of loving God.


Ministry Burnout Links

This week's links:

1. Five Reasons Your Pastor Should Take a Sabbatical by Thom Rainer

2. 12 Coaching Strategies to avoid Ministry Burnout by ICCA

3. 5 Ways to brings yourself back from burnout by Oprah

4. The Amazing Way This Hospital Is Fighting Physician Burnout by Huffington Post



Jesus, even in high demand, rested

Imagine a situation with me. If you felt called by God to walk into a cancer ward and to pray for an individual and image that God healed that person. Immediately. The newly healed person felt healed and there was absolutely no sign of the cancer in this person anymore. You and this person would be ecstatic and jumping up and down on the bed. The nurses and doctors would not know what to do. Then as you walked out of the room, you felt God call you to another room to pray for someone else. Then imagine a similar situation occurring, where God heals the person you pray for. If this continued to happen time and time again, at the very least another sick person with cancer would be calling you, more likely the doctors would want to know what you were doing and even more likely the news would be putting you on the spotlight.

This is just one fictional example of what it might be like to experience what Jesus might have experienced. Can you picture it? Jesus must have been in high demand! There must have been word out of his miraculous healings and wonders. I am sure that people were well aware of what he was doing and I imagine that people wanted his time and his healing touch.

Jesus models something else for us that we really need to take into consideration. Jesus took breaks. He rested. He went away to be alone with God, even in his busiest season. Even when people were still hurting and in need. Even when Jesus was demanded and reached a celebrity status of his time....He went away to be with God alone:

Mark 1 : 35 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 6:46- Jesus, after a busy day of healing people, sent people away so that He could be alone in prayer. If you continue reading the chapter there are still people lined up looking for Jesus (v. 55). Again in Matt. 14: 22-23, Jesus dismissed the crowds, so He could go to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus' priorities were very clear.  Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was a habit for Jesus. Jesus quietly slipped away again and again, as it is mentioned in Luke 9:10 also.

Jesus rested on the Sabbath and went to the synagogue (Lk. 4:16), the equivalent of going to church on Sunday. The morning before choosing His twelve disciples, Lk. 6 reports that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Throughout His time on earth as a human, Jesus modeled the importance of taking time off to recharge. This involved a lot of prayer. His source truly was God the Father. We too can follow this example and knell before the Lord God, our Father for strength and refreshment as well.