Break Glass in Case of Emergency Part Two

I swore I was going to take it easy on the blogging until the New Year and focus on things that have to be done (like our impending church move) and being with friends and family. But I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of weariness, of feeling about burned out and just plain tired.

I think I’ve been kind of trapped in a loop/trap, all of it a pride thing, really. I find it really frustrating and depressing when something I was expecting to enjoy or use to relax doesn’t go exactly as planned (despite the fact that I’m all about not over-planning and improvising). I also can’t stand being introspective to the point of being maudlin or be seen as whining about anything. It’s the classic American quandry, wanting to be strong and independent (despite our need for community).

Now, there are more than a few things I suck at. Taking Sabbath is one of them. Letting folks be a friend to me is another (that’s a tale for another day). Sometimes friends rant at you (and since they are people I’ve chosen to speak into my life, they’ve earned the right). I have a friend whose anonymity I’ll protect by calling him RedWineGums. He’s been a special blessing as I’ve gotten to know him. This may have to serve as a Break Glass in Case of Emergency Part Two type post, as he reminds me of things (you’d think I’d remember since I’d written on them before) which we need to be re-reminded of on occasion:

We don’t have to be the strong men all the time. We don’t have to be the calm at the eye of the storm. We are allowed to have feelings. We are allowed to feel broken. And we are allowed to say we need help.

God appeared on a cloud and gave you this essential task that no-one else could perform did He?

A fear of perception is one way the enemy uses to get to us. Whether it’s fear of releasing yourself in worship, fear of talking to someone about God, or fear of raising how you’re feeling.

We get the idea that we should somehow be immune to the trials of simple human life because what we’re implicitly saying—when we are always the dependable one, always the strong one, always the reliable one—is that we are one. We stand alone as strong men.

Forgetting how much we need God. Forgetting how much our wives, children and friends pour into our lives. Forgetting that it’s only in our weakness and brokenness that God is truly glorified.

How can we live in community when we think we always have to give but never take? There is nothing wrong with saying that we need some help or encouragement or even some acceptance that we put in a hell of a lot of work at times. We’re not meant to seek after it, but neither are people meant to ignore it.

You’re not a whiner if you talk to some other person saying you feel burnt out and would like some encouragement or help with things. Community isn’t about you fulfilling the inbuilt Alpha male need to provide. It’s also about acknowledging when you need someone else to take that place

Let me leave you with this quote and this prayer he sent me (which I generalized so that we could all hear it):

“Well done for hanging on. When you were only going to the church. Well done. When you prayed even though you didn’t feel God. Well done. When you were ignored and passed by but still kept the faith. Well done.” –Jeff Lucas

Lord I ask that they would find the encouragement and comfort they need in You
Lord human words are one thing but let them first turn to You for their rest and recovery
Lord I pray for their mind right now
I come against any attacks of the enemy on my brethren
I speak wholeness, life, hope, faith and love to their lives

Actually, I kept waiting for him to say Take Your Ass Home (and yes, I will learn to start saying “no” to things. It’s practically a New Year’s Resolution. Practically. Hey, I can’t be expected to change overnight).

From the Mailbag

I can use some advice. I’m really considering stepping down as Emir of the Community. Bottom line is that I’m tired of the constant headache of dealing with every issue/problem, charting our direction and all the battles that ensue. When is enough, enough?

Part of me feels like I’m running out before the “job” is complete. And part of me feels like I’m the best we have to offer to do the job (this is part arrogance and part cold fact). However, the “job” is never done because there is always work to be done (as you surely know). And just as I came in fresh with bold ideas and new direction, there is no reason to assume the next guy won’t do the same thing once the responsibility is thrust upon him.

I don’t know, but I really believe that I can serve better in a subordinate position. I don’t need (or want) to be the chief. What do you think?

Man, I know what you mean. Quietly, the other reason it took me so long to write you back is because I needed someone to encourage me to stick with this leadership thing before I could even BEGIN to talk to you about it. I was feeling beat down and discouraged, The sheer exhaustion of constantly thinking about the ministry, how best to implement things, how best to reach and shepherd people. For that matter, the fatigue of trying to move any group of people from point A to point B, physically or spiritually. You just get tired of the headache, of the constant complaints and criticisms (there’s nothing like waking up to the pile of messages, e-mails, and comments about how you’re wrong and not doing anything right. Or the list of suggestions of things you OUGHT to be doing.)

Then there’s the special grief that comes after you’ve poured yourself into people–served them, discipled them, helped them–only to see them turn on you (or them leaving your community because you’ve somehow betrayed them).

However, let me tell you, it took two things to get me back in the game:

1) the encouragement of a couple of people to remind me to be who I am and keep doing what I’m doing.

2) seeing a couple of victories. Just knowing that you’ve made the difference in a couple of people’s lives, that what you’ve done has mattered.

I think this applies to any of us, no matter where we are on the spiritual journey, not just pastors, emirs, or leaders. None of us are that strong or successful – most days we’re just barely getting by. I think that’s why we’re told to encourage one another. The ultimate decision is yours, but sometimes it takes and outsider’s perspective to put things in place for you. Just a few things to reinvigorate you. Let’s face it, the times of doubt and worthlessness constantly plague leaders of any stripe. We constantly live with the nagging voices, internal and external, and we have to know the difference between it being time to step down or move on, and “the Enemy” simply playing on our doubts and weakness.

Don’t get me wrong, if the work is meant to be done, God will raise up the people to do it. We aren’t bigger than the work, nor are either of us irreplaceable. However, we’re here now and I don’t think God is done with either of us yet.

And now I think I’ll go blog all of this.*

*And because it’s my blog, I will leave out my other spiritual advice that began “Get your head out of your ass.”

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