How To Live Your Calling Without Dying
“I’m dying… but that’s normal.”
The words hit me hard as I sat across from one of the leaders of our student ministry. She had been through it all, married to a pastor, and in student and para-church ministry herself for years. She’s experienced the demand and watched others around her burn out time and time again.
She looked right at me and said, “You’re tired.” Of course, she was right. We just returned from back-to-back mission trips and preparing to help at an elementary school camp in the coming weeks, and “tired” was definitely an accurate statement.
“I understand it. We go about life saying ‘I’m dying… but that’s normal’, and no matter how much sleep we get each night, there is still a drain mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. But what if it wasn’t normal? What if we still did our job, but in a healthy way? What if we had rest?”
I knew it was true, too. I could see my passion, my creativity, my relationships, my perspective and my teachability slowly dying… and…I seemed to be ok with it. But in that moment, I knew something had to change. I needed to replace my current habits and priorities before a team would be finding a replacement for me. I needed to instill rest and margin into my life. How?
The Full Tank
What most of us lack in our ministry lifestyle is space and time away from the ministry… and… anything associated with it. The Full Tank is all about creating time and space. The whole concept is that you fill up your gas tank in the morning of a day of rest and drive to a location(s) where you can experience a certain amount of peace and revitalization, and by the time you get back to home that evening, your tank should be at or near empty. Living in Colorado presents some awesome opportunities for me to live this out between the mountains, strange hipster/hippie towns, busy cities with amazing cafés and wide-open spaces to hammock and rest.
However, we all know that just going somewhere will not pour life into us, rather it is what we do there that does. One of the ways that I keep myself accountable to doing soul care while on the journey is bringing my journal and Bible. Begin by choosing a section of scripture to read and copy it word-for-word into the journal. We get paid to read (a lot) of scripture, but do we really spend time in it? Once we journal it and notice all the words, phrases and concepts that jumped out at us because we spent twice the time in God’s Word, we answer what the passage says about God, His people, us individually, and what we’re going to do about it. When we dive into God’s word in a setting where we’re not thinking about our next sermon, about students in our care and the tasks that haunt us, we find life and renewed passion in what we’ve allowed to become a job. However you dive into relationship with Jesus and what he says, do it… and do it intentionally. Spend time in it.
What refuels you? Community? Solitude? Mountains? Beach? Go there.
The Dark Phone
The greatest plague of our vocation is the diminishing margin of ministry and Sabbath. Whether we’re single, in a relationship, married or any other relationship status that Facebook gives us, we know that honoring the time of others in our lives outside of our ministry is a high priority. Although, sometimes the lines get blurred and we find ourselves hanging out with a crowd of our closest and dearest friends and family, the phone lights up and we start answering e-mails because it’s something that “just has to get done.”
A mentor of mine spoke into my life calling me out on this saying,
“If there is an emergency, they have your number and they’ll call you. So live in a way that reflects the fact that you believe your family and community is vital to your life.”
So I don’t have my e-mail on my phone.
Whether I’m alone or with my community, creating this margin has largely contributed to my newfound life and passion for what God has called me. Let the phone stay dark and develop a healthy margin because, let’s be real, if the church burns down, if a parent doesn’t know what to do about their student’s fidget spinner or if Netflix releases yet another suspenseful and controversial show, what are you really going to do about it right that moment?
The Vocalized Rhythm
Young Life is a really cool organization with a lot of really solid people. In my life, the local area director that we partner with demonstrates so many biblical disciplines and is one of the most genuine and wise humans that I know. What he has modeled in his own life has impacted me and countless others in how he develops margin and Sabbath in his life.
On one specific occasion, I tried to get in touch with him on a Wednesday for something that we wanted to potentially partner with and his response was, “Hey brother! You don’t know this yet and just wanted to keep you in the loop. Wednesdays are my day of rest so I will always get back to you tomorrow.” In fact, if you call him, his personal voicemail says much of the same thing.
He creates specific and steadfast margin in his life and vocalizes that rhythm to everyone in his life. Convenient? No. Healthy? Absolutely. And because we love and care about him, we want to honor that… and they will honor that for you, too.
What is your rhythm? Does it promote a healthy basis for living out the calling to which you were called? Does your rhythm honor God, the person He has made you to be and the people He has gifted you in your life?
So often, we are dying and it’s normal to us. But what if God called us to more? What if He called us to not just survive ministry, but to thrive in it? What if he called us to do more than maintain, but instead, have a movement-making mentality?
Let your creativity, your passion, your calling, and your faith come alive.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.