Are you an over- or underachiever? If you're anything like me, the answer is probably: yes. It's easy to fall into either ditch depending on the task, the season of life, or how much coffee you have or haven't had. Whatever your inclination, the solution isn't to dive into the other ditch; it's to find the right balance on the path forward. We need godly self care—not as an escape but true restoration.
Recently, I was told that I have the best work/life balance of anyone on the team. We were joking because I never leave vacation on the table at the end of the year, and I fuss at the other staff if they do. UBA doesn’t hire slackers, so it is not uncommon for one of the staff to get a little wrapped up in work, the to-do list, and unexpected challenges that arise. Before you know it, things are out of balance.
Over the years, however, I’ve come to believe that holding all the areas of my life in balance before God brings honor to him. My theology about balance involves the belief that all the aspects of my life are meant to be lived fully to the glory of God. Here's what that has looked like for me.
“Sweetie,” my husband gently began. “This is an intervention.”
In his most compassionate voice, Craig began describing my life—my job and the amount of travel it required, my responsibilities in raising our teenaged kids, my ministry as a pastor’s wife, my efforts to be a good friend and a good daughter. “This is just not sustainable,” he said. “I’m not upset with you, but something has to change.”
Waves of inadequacy and shame washed over me. I was trying so hard to do it all. People depended on me. How could I stop?
This season of my life has been particularly straining. All good things, but good things still take their emotional toll. Ministry requires pastors who truly love their congregation, feel what they feel, hurt when they hurt, and grow weary when they grow weary.
My point here is not to commiserate. The spiritual oversight of souls is tough work, and those of us in ministry aspire to that work. Instead, I simply want to issue a plea: Pastor, seek respite. Use the resources available to you for the good of your ministry, your family, and your soul.
Like the hyperdrive on Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon, there are leaders who propel their churches forward at breakneck rates, helping them journey great distances and achieve impressive results. In the leader’s mind, the idea of being a “visionary” excuses their obsession with results and the tunnel-vision that accompanies their success. When this occurs, a hyper-driven leader creates vision-weary people and may be authoritarian, autonomous, and even downright mean.
Why would otherwise great leaders act in such destructive ways?