Posted in Faith, Personal Development

Sometimes It’s Okay to Rest

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I was a mess. For days sickness had visited my household, each of my children suffering from some kind of stomach and intestine bug. I had held vigil around the clock, assisting them as needed and cleaning up afterward, trying to provide some measure of comfort. But I had reached the end of my strength. As I looked around me to assess all the work that needed to be done, I broke into sobs.

I called my husband on the job for some sort of assurance. (This was before cell phones, and getting a hold of him was a feat in itself.) He kindly suggested, “Why don’t you get some rest. The kids are fine right now.”  I hung up the phone, angry at his lack of understanding. I didn’t need rest. I needed to disinfect the house. I needed to plan for the upcoming Sunday worship service. I needed to complete the 25 things on my to do list.

Looking back 20 years, I smile at my absurdity. My husband was right. I really did need rest. I just couldn’t see it then.

So many of us find it difficult to rest. Difficult is probably an understatement. Our culture idolizes busyness. We may not like being so busy, but we accept it as an inevitable way of life. We run on a hamster wheel, not going anywhere, but at least we’re still moving. Sometimes we just need to get off the hamster wheel, stop, and re-calibrate.

Some of us are ambitious and driven. We are intentional about our activities, and prioritize our calendars, but we overestimate our own physical abilities and stamina. Everyone around us suffers, because we are sleep deprived and our blood sugar is low. We keep going until we get the job done, or until we hit the wall of exhaustion, which ever comes first (but the job had better be done when we stop). We need to remember that sometimes it’s okay to rest.

Where has God placed you as a leader? To be an effective leader, you must have rest. You are not meant to carry the weight of the mission on your own shoulders alone. Be faithful and responsible. Do not become prideful and think the mission cannot be accomplished without you. Yes, you are important. No, you are not indispensable. Failure to rest can be a sign of pride and lack of trust in the Lord.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).

To be honest, I am writing this as a reminder to myself. I am thankful for my friends who encourage me not to push myself quite so hard, and for my husband who loving mentions when I’ve spent too many late evenings at the office. As you read this, I hope that you are also challenged. Your family, your job, your ministry is a gift from the Lord to steward well. Take time to rest your body and soul, so that you can thrive as a leader.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to follow You in building Your Kingdom. I take your calling seriously and am passionate about fulfilling Your plans. Help me to honor and trust You by taking time to rest. Remind me that I am not in control. You are. I am blessed to partner with You in this great work. Every good and perfect gift comes from You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Posted in Character, Faith, Servant Leadership

Do You Struggle with the Messiah Complex?

What do David Koresh, Jung Myung Seok, Claire Bennet, and Batman have in common? At first glance this group may seem to be quite diverse. However, underneath their differences lies a solidly imbedded Messiah Complex.

A person with the Messiah Complex believes that he is the savior of a group, event, time period, or in radical cases, the world. In some instances, he may not claim to be the savior, but his followers may treat him as such.

The Messiah Complex has many forms. It may rear its ugly head through someone like Adolf Hitler. Fortunately, most of the time it is not so extreme. It is usually much more subtle. If not careful, even the best servant leaders can be fooled by its delusions.

During my experience as a leader, at home and in the workplace, I have caught myself entertaining (and acting on) some of these thoughts.

My gifts are extraordinary and rare.

If something is going to get done, I have to do it.

Nobody else understands the situation better than I do.

I know God is in control, but He needs me to do the work.

I’m the only one with the power to fix this problem.

The result of my thoughts and actions has been frustration, overwhelming stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Frustration and stress from working too many hours without rest and not sharing the load with others. Anxiety and exhaustion from carrying too much weight on my shoulders and enduring too many sleepless nights. This is clearly not the Lord’s will for those He loves and has called to partner with Him as leaders.

I’m not advocating giving up the pursuit of excellence or resigning responsibility. However, there is something wrong when we believe that success of a mission rests solely and squarely on us.

What about you? Do you recognize any of these symptoms? Could it be that you too struggle with elements of the Messiah Complex?

We thrive in life and leadership when we walk in humility, realizing everything we are and accomplish come from God. Jesus Christ is clearly the only Messiah.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3, NIV).

There is great assurance in realizing that we are part of the magnificent Body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy (Colossians 1:17-18).

We can be free from carrying the weight of responsibility, knowing that the outcome is ultimately up to the Lord.

Cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to lead, and for the grace and humility to fulfill Your call. Reveal to me when I place too much trust in myself. Help me to rely on You, trusting You as the One True Savior. In Jesus’ name.

Posted in Vision & Goal Setting

The Tyranny of Should

There is something I really enjoy about getting older. I have a much clearer sense of who God has created me to be, and I feel less pressure to be someone I am not. Even with this greater understanding of freedom, there are times I still live under the heavy weight of man-made expectations. I call this the Tyranny of Should.

Our society paints a picture of a successful woman. She has a full time career. Her children are well-behaved, and thrive at school and in the extra-curricular she actively supports. Her marriage is fulfilling with lots of romance and spice. She is a good cook and keeps an organized and spotless home. She exercises regularly to maintain her attractive figure. In the church, the successful woman looks a little different. She may not work full time, but she is actively involved in church ministry and is supportive of her husband. She spends hours in prayer and Bible study, and opens her home in hospitality.

There are equally demanding expectations on men. It’s overwhelming! What’s a person to do?

It’s important to periodically take stock of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I ask the following questions.

What has God called me to do?
God’s calling will change throughout the seasons of our lives. I devoted years investing in my kids and being the primary support person for my pastor-husband. I loved it (for the most part) and knew that God had called me to do it. As my kids grew and needed me less, a new direction became more defined. I have been called to minister in the marketplace, and I have a pastor’s heart.

God’s calling guides my activities. The things I do must relate to His calling. I need to let the distractions go (as good as they may be).

What are my priorities?
We all have 24 hours in a day. I cannot do everything. My time must be spent on what is important to me. In order to see my priorities clearly, I write a list and rank them in order. The top five items are where I spend the majority of my time. Even though I may like other things, I must keep focus.

Because my time is limited, I also adjust my expectations for how much time I spend on my priorities. My top priority has always been cultivating my relationship with Jesus. When I had five young children at home, my devotional time looked much different than it does today. I longed for long hours of silence to listen and pray, but that wasn’t realistic. Now my house is quiet and I don’t long for silence anymore. On the other hand, with my current schedule, I only have 20 minutes a day to exercise. I know it’s not optimal, but it’s what I can do.

Resist the Tyranny of Should. Pursue what God has called you to do, and do what you can do with confidence.