When a minister is young, it is very tempting to rely on raw energy to carry one through the day. You find that you can get up early in the morning, preach a funeral, do marriage counseling with a couple and then stay up late after a long elder’s meeting. Eventually, you may learn that such a lifestyle is not sustainable over the long term.
A minister (or any other church leader) can become drained and disillusioned. Such depletion is hazardous for any kind of long-term ministry.
Do you relate to any of the following three conditions?
1. Some of us become consumed by our own busyness. We may finally realize that we are drained.
Many of us live with the nagging sense of the unfinished. There is always something to be remembered. Something to be done. Something to be said. With 24/7 accessibility (due to our communication devices), we may find that we are always doing something related to our work. We often find it very difficult to be fully present. Yes, I am in a conversation but my phone is ringing, another text message has arrived, and e-mail is here.
Some time ago I heard a person say she was thankful she always ate fruit for breakfast because she didn’t have to sit down to eat. That may not mean much on the surface; however, her whole family lives a driven, pressure-filled lifestyle.
2. Some of us become controlled by the urgent.
Life becomes moving from event to event. Some families rarely even eat meals together anymore.
Not only being occupied but also being preoccupied is highly encouraged in our society. The way in which newspaper, radio, and TV communicate their news to us creates an atmosphere of constant emergency. The excited voices of reporters, the preference for gruesome accidents, cruel crimes, and perverted behavior, in the hour to hour coverage of human misery at home and abroad slowly engulfs us with an all pervasive sense of impending doom. On top of this bad news is the avalanche of advertisements. We live much like a logger who is doing poorly at cutting down the tree but was too busy to sharpen his ax. (Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New)
3. Some of us become bored and may even become disillusioned.
Perhaps you are very busy but wonder if what you are doing really makes any difference. You are busy with ministry, but wonder if it really counts. Do these things really matter?
Consequently, you may become bored and depressed. This often occurs when the requirements of our work do not match our creative potential. In other words, it seems that my work has lost its meaning.
Beneath all the accomplishments of our time, there is a deep amount of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy … and a deep sense of uselessness fills the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world. (Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New)
What is there about ministry that makes it particularly difficult to deal with one’s own busyness?