(Audio) 3 Fuels To Prevent Burnout

Feel free to share this with someone who might be blessed by it.

Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Leadership Burnout: 4 Signs To Watch For

“Leadership is a marathon, NOT a sprint.”

You’ve heard this before.  Church leadership requires a healthy pace.  You and I;  we’re not Superman.  We’re definitely not God.  So we need to stop living our lives like we are.

burningout.002

As leaders in the Church, you and I have a huge responsibility.  This is all the more reason we must be attentive to our spiritual, physical, and emotional health regularly.

Here are 4 signs to beware of:

Short temper | Anyone ever accused you of being snappy?  Maybe your spouse or a co-worker?  And when they address it doesn’t it make us even SNAPPIER?  When we have been going full throttle for too long, anything (anyone) that appears to be a speed bump in our way ends up really irritating us.  Watch out for this.

Fatigue | Staying up too late and getting up too early.  Have you ever said to yourself, “People survive on 3-4 hours of sleep a night all the time.  I just need to push through this busy season.”  Two thoughts here.  1. That is simply justifying an unhealthy lifestyle.  2. If you’re in church leadership, guess what?  It’s always a busy season!

Told by others | This one usually stings a bit.  And the reason is usually because the person holding us accountable is someone we have a close relationship with.  A spouse, close mentor, or good friend.  That’s why it stings…because you and I know they’re right!  Here are a few things I’ve personally been told: “Hey man, what’s up? You’ve been a bit distant lately.”   “You have not checked in on me and how my family has been doing in quite a while.  I miss that.”   Are you O.K? You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Isolation | This one is huge!  Beware when you reach the point of dreading being around anyone.  You stop going to Small Group with your spouse during the week.  You tend to be the last one in at staff meetings and the first one to leave.  Your list of friends you can confide in has diminished to zero.

If you can relate to any of these today, please….talk to someone.  Modify your schedule.  Take a true Sabbath rest.  Ask your spouse to pray for/with you.

If this isn’t you but you know someone who is in this place, do them a favor.  Offer some loving accountability.  Share this post with them.  Offer to pray over them.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore your gut on this.  Leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Has Busyness Intruded On Your Life?

I am sick and tired!

Literally, as I write this I have been knocked down for the last 5 days.  I’ve missed work, gotten behind in my studies, and whined a lot to my family about how miserable I feel.

Truth | You and I are not super-human, and we’re definitely not God!  We were not created to be invincible (I know, hard to believe).

Confession | I haven’t taken time to rest like I should.  This is a huge reason I got sick.  I have not had my quiet time with Jesus in the last week.  I have not been proactive about taking a real Sabbath once a week.

So how did this happen to me?  How do we allow our days to spin out of control?

EASY!

busyness.001

We let our priorities and healthy habits fall out of sight.  When we don’t plan ahead…when intentionality becomes scarce…those things get replaced.  So what takes their place?   Busyness! 

I don’t know about you, but I plan to be more intentional with my time.  That’s simply going to mean looking ahead at my week and planning accordingly.

How about you?  How do you successfully keep busyness from leading the way?

Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

3 Surprising Sabbatical Reflections

All leaders require rest……but all don’t realize it!

Sabbatical:  Similar to the purpose in our weekly Sabbath, a Sabbatical (at least in church terms) is a number of days or weeks set aside for Prayer, Bible intake, reflection, and physical rest.

rest.001

Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. – Ezekiel 20:12

I’m fortunate to be serving on staff at a church that sees the benefit in it’s pastoral staff taking regular Sabbaticals.  Recently, I returned from a 3-day Sabbatical.  Here are three reflections I came away with after comparing this one with others I’ve had in past years.

They are always different | These times away are spiritual journeys.  And since the Holy Spirit leads the way, it’s a good idea to not over-plan.  Enter it with a focus, but leave enough margin open for God to reveal his intentions for you.

They always have value | Sometimes we simply need tons of physical rest.  Other times fresh vision and insight is needed from reading the Word and listening to other teachers/preachers.  And then there are those times when we are desperately searching God’s will in a heavy decision.  No matter the ‘why,’ this time alone with God is always valuable.

They are never what you expected | This one was no exception.  As usual, I began this most recent one with a handful of specific expectations.  Things I wanted gain insight on from God.  In keeping with how he usually does things, God provided just what I ‘needed’ and nothing more.  And you know what?  What he spoke was better than what I had asked for.

What have been your experiences with Sabbaticals?  What challenges come to mind for when contemplating experiencing something like this for yourself?

Comments and questions are always appreciated.

God says, “Quit!”

macIn Mac language we could even say, ‘Force Quit.’  Why?  Because this subject is not easy.  It takes determination and a thought out plan.
Here are some practical reasons for having a day of rest (a Sabbath).

1.  God did it.

His example should be good enough for us.  Period!

2.  God asks tells us to.

Its a simple question of obedience.  As followers, we don’t get to pick and choose when we listen to Him.  God’s not an egotistical power-monger.  He always has reasons behind what He tells us…and we need to be OK with not always understanding those reasons.

3.  We are not God…we need the rest.

Whether you work the ticket booth at the local cinema or you’re the CEO of a major corporation…you CAN take one day a week to NOT work.  Screen your calls, mute your smart phone, don’t check emails, stay away from the office.  Failure to do this WILL cause problems for you down the road.

4.  It says a lot about our priorities when we observe a real day of rest.

 Taking a weekly Sabbath day demonstrates commitment to God, our family, and our own spiritual health.  And if you’re a pastor, it models a good example to your staff and church body.
Now, make a list of all the reasons that are keeping you from having a day of rest, rejuvenation, and awareness of God’s blessings  in your life.  Take that list to God in prayer and devise a plan to work past them.
What could you benefit from setting aside one complete day for this kind of rest?
Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

The One Commandment Most Church Leaders Break Often

Church leaders are some of the worst examples of modeling healthy rest.  I wrestled with this for years!

God even commands us to do it……yet we don’t.

calm

…the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…  Exodus 20:8-11

Now, I’m not talking about a legalistic approach to the Sabbath, which includes checking off a ton of boxes to show we are ‘keeping the law.’ The deeper purpose of the Sabbath is so much more.

Taking one day every week and giving it Sabbath consideration does two things.

  • It proves to God that we really do care about what He tells us.
  • It forces us to create healthy margin in an increasingly busy society.

So…why do church leaders constantly struggle with taking a full day of rest?

Guilt | This is especially true of senior leaders.  “The church is paying me to be the Pastor at all times.”  No they’re not!  You are in your leadership position to lead the congregation in healthy relationship to God.  That means letting others see in you how to live the life God has called us all to live.

Poor time management | “There is work to be done every day of the week.”  Yes there is, but it can be done in six days.  Pre-plan your studying, phone calls, meetings, appointments, and regular tasks to fit into 5 or 6 days.  This is what ‘keep the Sabbath holy’ means.

Savior complex | Can I just shoot straight on this one?  If you think you can’t take a literal day of rest because someone in the church ‘might need’ you, there’s a problem.  What eventually happens here is people in the church learn to lean more on us as pastors and less on their faith in Jesus.

May I offer you a challenge?  Take one of your regular days off and give it Sabbath consideration.  For me, that day is Monday.  Sunday is church and leadership…that’s work.

Be sure to check out my post on ‘4 Tips To Having A Good Day Of Rest.’

If this helped you, I’d encourage you to share it with someone else who could use it today.

Join the discussion.  Leave a comment below. 

Top 5 Recent Leadership Posts

feedbackBelow are my most popular posts on leadership.  I’m sharing these with you for one key reason.  I am looking to making a few small adjustments with my approach to my blog and I really need your input.  Take a look.

1) Manage your life, or your life will manage you

2) Your worship style is not working

3) We’re going to skin our knee on ministry work

4) 5 tips to having a good day of rest

5) Taking the Church’s Biblical pulse

Now tell me…which of these post did you like the most and why?

What aspects of the content did you find most helpful, and what material do I need to change or completely get rid of?  Are there leadership topics/issues that I am missing?

I’d love your input.  Either comment below or email me at brent@ccclive.org

(photo credit: www.jeffbullas.com)

“Taking the Church’s Biblical Pulse”

(This is a continuation of an  article I wrote for Light and Life Magazine’s January issue)

photo by: urbanchristiannews.com
photo by: urbanchristiannews.com

Most Churches have a degree of illness in them.  It’s to be expected…Church is comprised of flawed people.  Now, we really can’t talk about Church health without utilizing the Bible.  I know we ‘say’ that, but do we regularly compare our Church health to Biblical principles?  Let’s take a look at what I believe to be 5 key issues that make up the foundation of a healthy Church.

1) People Before Task Lists –  Jesus instructed us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39), not to put our ‘To-Do’ lists before people.  Life gets busy for all of us.  Tasks and errands affect everyone.  If we are not careful, however, we will get all of our boxes checked off but miss the hungry soul that crosses our path and not even know it.  This is what I normally refer to as Spirit Awareness.  I am constantly finding myself praying daily for the Holy Spirit to grab my attention when I am about to have an opportunity to plant a seed for the Kingdom.  If I do not ask for this I am typically not going to look for it.

2) Scripture Before Comfort –  This one is so uncomfortable, yet singlehandedly kills Churches.  When a fellow believer needs to have an unhealthy aspect of their life addressed, Ephesians 4:15 encourages the Church family to speak the truth in love, not ignore it in hopes that the issue will magically disappear (because it never does).  And if there is an offense or sin between believers, Matthew 18:15-17 clearly tells us how to go to the individual and take care of it.  Note, texting or sending them a direct message on Facebook does not count.  Trust me, even if Jesus had an iphone in his day I am pretty sure he would say what he had to say to your face and not drop subtle hints on your Instagram account.

3) Lord Before Pastor –  I realize this one might be a bit sensitive for some folks,  but it is right there in the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:3).  We are to have no other gods before Him.  Did you know that the use of ‘gods’ here could translate “person of greatness or power?”  Lead Pastors are in this category.  This does not make them bad people, but Churches often place their Pastor on a pedestal so high (unintentionally) that they become the focal point of who is leading the Church instead of God.   Here is a tough question.  If your Pastor left your Church (circumstances aside) would it continue making an impact for Heaven without skipping a beat, or would it completely implode?

4) Sabbath and Prayer – There are seasons when we simply must rest.  Jesus modeled this with his disciples saying, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)  This applies to us as individuals as well as to the Church.  Might I suggest that it is O.K. occasionally for the Church to shut down ministry for a week of prayer?  Our church does this three times a year.  During a week of prayer we strongly encourage (all but mandate) all Bible studies, groups, student ministries, and outreach events to cease.  We then ask the congregation to join us in prayer and worship each night at the Church.  

5) Keep everything in the light – In other words, do not lead the Church via top secret Board meetings and ‘off record’ one-on-one talks with people who have personal agendas.  Likewise, avoid ignoring problems of gossip, infidelity, and other compromises of the faith within the Church.  Address these issues head on and with everyone involved once you become aware.  When evil is brought into light it cannot thrive away from darkness (Eph. 5:13-14).

Healthy Churches make greater impact for the Kingdom of God.

Is there anything you would add to this list?  What are some examples of solid Church health that you have seen?

Comments are welcome below, or you can leave me a voice message HERE.  God bless.

* Credit:  The majority of these principles come directly from our Operational Values at Christ Community Church, compiled by Rev. Keith Cowart.

8 Tips to Having a Good Day of Rest

photo by: www.fredmckinnon.com
photo by: http://www.fredmckinnon.com

Common excuses:

– My job doesn’t allow time.

– I don’t know anyone who really takes a full day Sabbath every week.

– I wouldn’t know what to do with a whole day of nothing.

– I simply have too much to accomplish.  Resting one entire day would be a waist!

Have you said any of these before?  Be honest.  I have.  In fact, I’ve said all of them.

God set the example for us.  He rested after 6 days of work, not because He was tired….but because He knew we would need real rest.  He was simply modeling the importance of a Sabbath rest for us.  And it wasn’t simply a loving, well-meaning suggestion.  It’s included in the 10 Commandments!  This is important, people.  Especially for those of us in church leadership.

We must take what God modeled for us, and model the same to those we lead!  It should be a large focal point of how we approach making disciples.  Disciples are learners……followers.  Therefore, they need to have something worth following.  

So, what does this ‘day of rest’ look like for us today?  Let me offer some suggestions of things I’ve put into practice.

Set your day – Schedule it…plan ahead for success.  Mine works best on Mondays, so I get things done on Sunday.  The things I don’t finish I add to my ‘to do’ list for Tuesday.  The only way to make your Sabbath Day a success is to make it Holy.  We need to treat it like gold!  Otherwise, it becomes just another day.

Communicate – Talk openly about it.  Let your spouse, kids, co-workers, and friends know what your Sabbath Day is.  This is an important piece of training.  Over time, most people will learn to respect this day for you.  The calls, texts, knocks on the door will be greatly reduced.  (wouldn’t that be amazing?)

Dont’ check email – Turn off email alerts on your phone.  Put your laptop away.  You could even set up an ‘out of office’ message every week to explain why you’ll be returning emails the next day in the office.

Screen your calls – Personally, I don’t answer any phone calls on my day of rest (except from family).  If the caller is not already in my contacts so that I can know who’s calling, it goes to voicemail.  Period!

Turn ‘chat’ off on facebook – I have a feeling you know where I’m going with this.  Have you ever been on facebook just catching up with family and friends before going to bed….when someone starts up a ‘live chat’ with you regarding work/ministry?  This is a simple issue of setting good boundaries for yourself.

Leave work at work – This is another type of boundary.  If you know that you lake the level of discipline to completely refrain from getting caught up on your ‘to do’ list at home…leave those things at the office.

Open your Bible – Sounds cliche, right!  But this really is part of honoring a Sabbath.  Growing closer to God needs to be a central theme.  And the easiest way to do that is to read His Word.  (studying for your next sermon or Bible study does not count here, btw)

Meditate – No, not sitting with your legs crossed in an empty room filled with incense.  Think about the things of the Kingdom.  About the character of Jesus.  About the goodness and blessings in your life because of Him.

Now, where have you succeeded or wrestled with implementing a day of rest?  How do you think you could benefit from having a regular day of rest as described above?  And the big question…are you willing to attempt practicing a weekly Sabbath?

Subscribe to the blog HERE.

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Time off…with pay?

God modled health for us by resting on the 7th day.  (Gen. 2:2)  He asks us to do the same…every week!  Now, broaden  this concept and apply it to the leadership of the church.  The idea of a pastor taking a Sabbatical Leave every seven years isn’t necessarily a new idea.  Its just not a widely accepted one.  Here are some reasons I’ve personally heard over the years that some most churches won’t honor their pastors with a Sabbatical Leave.

“We can’t justify paying you for not being in the office.”   Can you justify paying your pastors an hourly wage and not a salary wage?  I’m not complaining about my pay…from any church I’ve served at.  But if you’re going to take this approach toward this question, please consider the average 55-80 hours the average pastor dedicates each week for 40 hours of pay.  Two to three months leave every seven years doesn’t seem so extravagant.

“It’s not in the budget.”   Here’s the simple truth.  It’s not there because you didn’t put it there.  It’s not a priority!  Good grief, you have seven years to budget and plan for it a little each year.  Make it happen.

“The rest of us in the secular job market don’t get one…why should you?”   Honestly, this kind of attitude is cancerous to a church.  Pastors’ entire lives are focused on God’s Kingdom agendas.  This is not the case with corporate America.

“Who will preach on Sunday and shepherd the church.”  First of all, its God’s Church….not a pastor’s!  Plan ahead and find guest speakers in your own congregation, sister-congregations, etc.  As for shepherding, pastors are called to train up the Church for the work of the ministry.  (Eph. 4:11-13)  The Church should be able to take care of itself for a short while.

The general purpose of a Sabbatical Leave is to gain much-needed rest at the soul level of the pastor.  It is NOT vacation, an early exposure to retirement, or even to make time to complete a doctoral dissertation.  I have only experienced two churches in 25 years that offer this to their pastors.  Usually, there is a healthy variety of rest and leisure time with family, learning and growing by visiting other churches that are thriving, and personal/spiritual restoration and quiet-time with God.  I am personally blessed to be serving in a church that believes in offering a Sabbatical Leave to our Lead Pastor AND the rest of the pastoral staff every 7 years.

To the Pastor who might be reading this post, if this blessing is offered to you….take it!  Spend 2-3 months with God and your family.  Don’t think about ministry work.  Your calling and soul will be renewed and strengthened more than you know.

To the Elders Board or Leadership Team, pray and discuss this as a group of believers who have a significant level of responsibility for the health of your Lead Pastor.  Ask yourselves, “Is there value in our Pastor leading our church for another seven years?”  Talk to churches that have given Sabbatical Leaves to their Pastors.  See how they do it, and ask  about the benefits they’ve seen from it.

May your church be richly blessed with healthy leadership.  What’s your response to this subject?