For more than a decade I lived by the slogan, “I’d rather wear out than rust out”. I believed the more work I did for God and others the better. Unfortunately, I fell into a trap that many ministry loving people do – giving without replenishing. By continuing this practice, I had set myself up for an epic burnout. And that is exactly what happened one epic burnout!
By the end of 2015, I realized I was in need of change. My health, mind, relationships and ministry needed serious R & R. So, with the loving support of my family and a few very special friends, I took a tremendous step of faith by deciding to take a year off. Really, it wasn’t optional at all. God had made his plans for me clear; bookings stopped, operating funds diminished, opportunities dried up, and chronic pain and neuropathy practically paralyzed me. I suspect if it weren’t for divine intervention and my family’s insistence I would have kept going until I dropped.
I won’t lie; I didn’t exactly embrace what the Lord told me was my year of restoration. In fact, I was a bit ticked off. If you know me you know I love football, so forgive the analogy, but I felt like a starting quarterback benched for performance issues. I loved ministry. I loved being with others. I could still play! Honestly, I felt rejected and like I was being punished even though I KNEW, according to his Word, that could not be true. I will never forget filling the washing machine one afternoon and mumbling, really God… under my breath. It was then that I heard the sweet whisper of the Lord saying, “…I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm… I had heard the promise of Joel 2:25 many times. It is the promise of God to restore his people to a “better than before” position.
As I rested, I began to inquire and reflect upon what exactly needed to be restored and how I had gotten so off track. God showed me where subtle, false mindsets had derailed me and where I had missed the early warning signs.
What did I learn from reflection?
I learned I had come to believe I could do many things well all at the same time. I loved to brainstorm and launch new projects, but I lacked the ability to finish anything. Why, because I believed in the myth of multitasking. God gives each of us certain talents. He doesn’t give one person EVERY talent. I forgot how special the talents God chose for me are. I can NOT do many things well. It’s pride that causes one to believe they can. The joy of enjoying the one thing God has asked me to do and do well needed to be restored to me.
I realized I forgot that my body is a temple, not a trash can. Caring for my health is something only I can do. Ignoring warning signs like chronic pain won’t make it go away, it will make it worse. In Psalm 139, David called our bodies fearfully and wonderfully made. In truth our bodies are miracles. It is my responsibility to steward my health. Until the day I get that glorified body in heaven I had better care for the one I have on earth. Restoration of health meant I needed to take greater care of my body including proper nutrition, rest, exercise, and seeing the doctor when necessary. I realize now self-care is not selfish it’s a spiritual responsibility.
Multitasking also meant investing much of me in many things. I spread myself too thin, and this left little of my heart and mind for those I love most… my family and they needed me first. The joy of being available and not otherwise occupied had been stolen from me. In order to restore it, God had to clear my plate!
I realized the caretaker in me took on more responsibility for others than necessary, and this created pressure and undo stress. I love working with others because it is energizing and fun. God showed me that you can work with others while not feeling responsible for incorporating others ministry or mission into my own. This simple truth can uncomplicate ministry. A good leader encourages others to live out their mission and calling and supports them NOT incorporates them. The appreciation of a unique calling and mission needed to be restored to me as well as the simplicity and intimacy of following after Jesus as he taught me to be a fisher of (wo)men.
I learned that an unrested mind is susceptible to the lies of the enemy. Remember I said early I felt like I was being punished? Feelings are the result of our thought life. If I was feeling it, I had to at some level believe it. Resting gives you space and grace to explore why those lies gain a foothold. In my case, I realized I forgot to put on the helmet of salvation and old wounds (like feeling not good enough and rejection) made their way to the surface. It amazes me how easy it is to forget to practice what we preach as ministers of the gospel. Revelation is key to restoration! Seeing it allows us to deal with it.
I believed that if I continued to pour myself out for God and work, work, work, he would supply all the energy and strength I needed. I had changed from a human “being with God” to a human “doing for God”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard others in ministry say this as well. It is true that God will supply us the ability to do the work or task assigned but this is a half-truth. Divine work requires divine supply! The energy, physical and spiritual strength, and emotional bandwidth to do for God and others flow from resting and waiting upon him. Jesus often slipped away by himself to recharge and pray. Isaiah 40:31 says, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. The simple ability to rest and recharge needed to be restored to me.
As I rested and reinvested in long-neglected areas of my life, God revealed where he was working. My body, soul, mind, spirit and relationships were and are still being methodically repaired.
The most beautiful gift that has come from my year of restoration is perspective. The Lord redefined two important words for me.
- Mission – what God has made me passionate about
- Ministry – how I live out my mission in the world
Further, he has clarified each. He has reminded me that my mission and ministry are specific to me and the unique way he has woven me together.
- My mission – to help others, specifically women, see themselves, relationships, and circumstances through God’s eyes. How we see things is called perspective. We can discover God’s perspective through his word. To see through his eyes, we must know and understand his Word.
- My ministry – is how I live out my mission. You don’t have to go somewhere or be “booked” to live out your mission. For me, it begins at home with my family. It is NOT platform driven. Instead, it happens where I am at in the moment whether it be a football field, pasta night, Facebook, the gym, a store. The reality is you can be salt and light anywhere. I had made it complicated. God has restored to me the gift of keeping it simple.
2016 was truly a year of restoration. If I can encourage you, don’t be afraid to rest, and for whatever period necessary to experience restoration. Allow the Lord to set the duration. Rest is invigorating. It restores your passion, gives you fresh perspective, births new idea’s, realigns your priorities, renews your health, and strengthens your relationships. Rest is the key to longevity in living out your mission and preventing that epic flame out. It is healthy. Don’t fear what you might lose either… I can assure you; you will gain far more than you lose.