I collapsed into my bed and plugged my phone in. There were no blankets to snuggle into – it was too hot. So I laid there, my face against the cool pillow, and stared at the wall.
Things were not going well.
I had worked from the time I had gotten out of bed until just before I had turned in for the night. It wasn’t an abnormally busy day – it was the same as the others. There is so much to do in the leading of a church. I can’t say that the pace was draining me that day, or that anything out of the ordinary had happened. But things were not going well. I felt it, not in the thrum of the organization, but in my own spirit.
The church was doing fine. I was not.
I wanted to lead with excellence, to see this church grow and thrive. But I was losing myself in the middle of it. When was the last time I had worked out? When was the last time I had cooked myself a meal instead of grabbing whatever was in the refrigerator? When was the last time I had put thought into my appearance, dressing in a way I was proud of?
I suppose I could have been proud of myself that ministry was going well. Leaders were being empowered, some needed improvements were coming along, and the leadership team was in health. Our team had spent months jumping through administrative hoops and sharpening our systems, and things were beginning to click along. But I was not proud of myself. I was sacrificing myself for the church.
Jesus did not ask me to do that.
As I lay in bed that night, I knew this couldn’t continue. My weight was increasing, my home was in disarray, and I had stopped paying attention to some personal administrative details. I remember praying and feeling almost sad that any part of me would still think my Father wanted a level of performance out of me that would require the sacrifice of my body, my home.
The change, I knew, would not be as simple as delegating a task to a team member or developing a plan on paper. The change would happen in the minutiae of my day. Coming back to health would require not an organizational scheme, but a very simple habit of self-care. What I needed was a resurrection of the ordinary – a return to the discipline of the boring, day-in and day-out tasks that were vital to my longevity in the ministry.
I am happy to say that night was a turning point for me. There are intentional things I have put into my day to force this self-care that might seem frivolous to someone else – taking my dog on a longer walk than normal, fixing my hair before I leave the house, cooking myself a fresh dinner – these things are more to me than the task themselves. They are a reminder that, more than Jesus wants my service, He loves me and wants me healthy. He wants me to build time into my day for reflection so that I have space to hear Him.
What is it in your life you have begun neglecting for the sake of the ministry? Is it your physical health? Your time in the Word? Perhaps it’s quality time with friends or your children – and your lack of self-care in that area is slowly hurting your relationships. Whatever it is, as in everything, there is no condemnation. Just a gentle beckoning back to health, back to life.
What areas in your life have been sacrificed for your ministry? What is one habit or change you can make to improve your daily routine? What are some areas of self-care you are doing well in?