(During July, the post which will appear each Thursday is a re-post. The following is part of a series in which I list a number of healthy habits for people (and particularly church leaders). Perhaps you missed this piece when it was first posted. Or, you may find that it is helpful to read this again given where you are in your life and ministry.
Habit #1 Practice self-awareness.
With whom am I spending time? I have to monitor just how much time I spend with negative, critical people. Too much time spent with others who are constantly griping and complaining will sure enough drain me of energy. I have a friend who described one preacher as so negative that his sermons on grace had a negative edge. Yet, I can’t listen to (what seems like) an endless stream of negative talk because it really does impact me.
What am I putting into my mind? On a typical day, I talk (email, phone call, personal conversation) with people about matters that are very serious. Someone has learned that they have cancer. Someone else is deeply concerned about personal financial debt. Still another is wrestling with marriage issues. At the end of the day, it is easy to go home and immerse myself in the national news, which much of the time is going to be very negative. As a result, I have to be very intentional about what I put into my mind. I can’t think about sad and tragic situations all of the time.
Often I make sure I watch something funny on television. I might watch a good ball game. I might read a biography, especially one that is not filled with tragedy. What I put into my mind really does matter.
Whom am I resenting? Unresolved conflict and resentments can be such energy drainers! It is amazing how much energy I can spend thinking about a person I am frustrated or angry with. Occasionally I need to ask myself, “How much time do I spend thinking about old resentments or things that long ago should have been forgiven?”
When do I re-create my body? I generally work out at the gym four times a week. My motivation for doing this is not my weight nor is it because I am a health nut. My motivation is rooted in the way it makes me feel when I am regularly working out versus how I feel when I am not. If I am not getting some kind of exercise, it really does impact how I feel. Not only do I feel sluggish, but I also tend to have less energy and motivation, particularly in the afternoons.
Some ministers get their emotional strokes by talking about how hard they work. They go on and on about what everyone has asked them to do and how busy they are. There are ministers who do not even take a day off. Not taking time to rest, to get away, and to recharge will eventually catch up with a person.
Habit #2. Build into your life space for growth in godliness.
I need time to read my Bible, pray, read books and listen to podcasts that contribute to my formation into a godly person.
To a church leader, discipline can be a welcome friend. There are so many surprises, so many unexpected conversations, that certain disciplines can be refreshing. Starting my day early, with an open Bible, book, and journal is a daily rhythm that helps me get oriented to the new day. Each morning I make a fresh cup of coffee and begin this routine