For the last week or so, I’ve been suffering from a bad case of pneumonia. Now that I think about it, I don’t believe there is a good case of pneumonia. I’ve had all the symptoms of it and have taken all the antibiotics for it. Right now, I’m probably about 75 percent of full health and have slowly (for me) worked myself back into a full schedule of ministry and life.
As someone who likes to be busy, the last few days have reminded me of the need for sabbath, balance, and priorities. I recognize my sickness is the result of a busy lifestyle that attempts to stretch more sunlight into a day than is available. Balance is needed, for all of us, in order to do the things that we must do in life, whether it is our jobs, love our families, or even to enjoy the things that find us rest.
This is especially true for me as a pastor, husband, and father, I need balance and a right perspective to do what God has called me to do. What does this mean?
First, I must attend to my soul and physical self. I must be grounded in my faith and centered in my relationship with the Lord. If I am not, then I am going through life without direction or purpose. I become lost and without focus on that which truly sustains and centers me, which is my faith in Jesus Christ. I must be willing to grow daily as a disciple so I may disciple others in their faith.
Within that, I must be willing to care for my physical self. I have to do the things that provide me rest, sustain my health, and give me energy. I have to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep, even if I want to eat that extra cookie, lay off the walking paths, or stay up to watch some documentary. At the same time, I must do things that give me enjoyment, whether it is playing golf or spending time with some of my favorite hobbies. To not do these things limits me, physically, which inhibits my ability to care for others.
I am learning this.
I’m also learning that I must care for my family. I must do the things that help sustain and support my marriage with my wife and provides me time with my son. Those are important to me. How can I promote strong family values and the sense of being a family if I am not willing to live into that within my own home? My family deserves all of me when I am home, and that is not something that I’ve always given.
That is not healthy. Yes, there are times when I will be home late, out at all hours, and away for multiple nights, but I must build in patterns of life where when I am home I am not an absent husband or father. I never want my family to have a bad taste in their mouth for the church because of me. I can do a better job about this.
I am learning this.
I’m also learning that if I am struggling with being and doing then how many others of us (pastors or laity) struggle with this. In our fast-paced, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture, we have promoted a culture that says that unless you are busy 100 percent of the time, or always engaged in something then you are not effective or vital. That cannot be further from the truth. To be vital we must learn to become who God desires us to be. Our identity must not be focused upon what we do, but who we are in Christ and how our relationship with the Lord defines and influences our relationships with others.
The Christ-focused life is not built on a life of doing, but a life of being that inspires our doing.
We (pastors and leaders) must be willing to live this out, so that others may know how to live this life out for themselves in their own lives. This must be my commitment. It will be from here forward.
Let us all learn how to live deeper and better.