Crash and Burn
The moment the alarm clock sounds and our feet hit the floor our feet don’t stop moving. Okay, for some (eh hem… like me), the alarm clock has two sound at least twice. Still, once the day begins it’s off to the races. Bouncing from commitment to commitment we all juggle lots of responsibility. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, our culture tells us we have to keep going. We must do more. We cannot stop. Not unless you want to be seen as a quitter, lazy, or not committed. Work weeks were once 40 hours… nowadays that’s the minimum.
This really troubles me – on several fronts.
The frantic pace in which we live our lives impacts every single relationship. If we are working 50+ hour work weeks inevitably we will have less time with our family. That means less time with your spouse. Caring for and nurturing that relationship is the second most important calling of your life. It’s hard to nurture, love, and care for your spouse when you have nothing left at the end of the day.
It effects our relationships with our children. If we’re working so much it is infinitely more difficult to raise our children the way God instructs us to. I’m not saying we should be best friends with our children (that can be dangerous, too) but our job is to instill, instruct, and prepare them for life. The problem is you can only do that if you have a healthy relationship with them – and that takes time.
When we live such frantic lives the first thing that often gets cut out is our time with God. It’s easy to put that off with every intention of doing it later. Maybe it’s just me, but something always comes up when I try to “get to it later.”
Life is busy. It was busy for Jesus and it certainly hasn’t changed in 2,000+ years. The Gospels tell us time and time again that the crowd pressed in on Jesus (Mark 3:9-11, Mark 5:24). His ministry was garnering attention. His teachings and healings had people flocking to him to the point of exhaustion.
Still, Jesus knew the importance of spending time with God in prayer. Jesus frequently withdrew from the crowds or got up earlier to spend time in prayer (Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23.) That time in prayer and study keeps the divine connection open for us to be refreshed and restored. It allows us the opportunity to speak to God, but more importantly to listen for him.
Our culture has confused busy-ness with productivity. We think the busier we are, the more productive we are and the better off we will be. Unfortunately, that’s not true. There have been many studies done of the years suggesting that taking naps during the workday is helpful and often boosts productivity. That being said I would check with your boss before your little siesta.
However, there’s no denying that the busier we are the harder it can be to take care of ourselves physically. We are always on the run so a lot of times we eat on the run. While I loved McDonald’s and other fast food joints as a kid, they aren’t the beacon of healthy eating. In fact, people who make their own meals are typically healthier in general.
So what does this have to do with the church?
You’re probably reading this because you want some spiritual insight or edification. The answer is simple. We cannot have healthy churches without healthy leaders and we cannot have healthy leaders without healthy people. I don’t mean healthy in terms of physical health (but that does play a role.) I mean healthy as in a life that has balance.
Balance is the foundation from which everything else flows. Work is important, but so is your relationship with God, your family, and yourself. You cannot do all of these things well if you don’t intentionally seek to balance your life. Your job will always have more work that needs to be done. Your relationships will require time and energy. Your faith will never deepen if you keep pushing it down the road because other things are more pressing.
In seminary I had a professor once say, “The most important thing you can do for yourself as a leader of the church is take care of yourself.” It’s antithetical to our culture, but it’s vital to our well-being.
I recently had a conversation with some of our leaders at FPC Ambler. In this conversation I expressed my hope and my desire for this church to continue to grow (both in terms of numbers and our faith.) I believe God is growing us, but I do not want us growing at the expense of ourselves or our families. If we do not find ways to care for ourselves, to balance the chaos of our lives, then we won’t be able to grow. We will crash and burn. If we continue give ourselves time and time again we will quickly see that our gas tank is on empty and we are running on fumes.
If Jesus withdrew to quiet places to pray – it’s good for us to do so, too. Do things that fill your heart with joy, find a new hobby, go out with friends, and spend time doing things that fill you up.