Tuesday, September 1, 2015

When You Hit A Wall...

There are times in ministry where you get tired.  Planning services, preparing events, paperwork, problem solving, working with people...it can easily become overwhelming after awhile. And when it does, it is hard to get any creative juices flowing.  You sit and stare at your computer and not a single idea comes to you.  You read your Bible and instead of something triggering an idea for a lesson, the words just sort of run together. Your "To Do" list seems to get longer and longer because you simply can not seem to concentrate long enough to accomplish what you want to do.  You, my friend, have hit a wall.

First, let me assure you that you are normal.  This happens to all of us from time to time.  I love what I do.  I can not imagine doing anything else, but let's be real here, ministry is one of the hardest jobs anyone can have. For all the jokes about preachers working only one day a week, we know that it is at times a grueling marathon.  So mental, physical, and emotional fatigue are all things we have to watch out for and deal with.

Now, lets talk about some ways to get passed the wall and move on.

Take a break!
You're body is telling you that it needs some rest.  Listen to it.  Have you taken a vacation in the past year?  Are you working too many hours?  Have you been taking your day off?  We Pastors are notorious for working too much.  Many see their days off as optional and vacations are few an far between, not because we are not given vacation days, but because we feel guilty about being away from our flock.  But times of rest and refreshment are not something you can do without.  If you have vacation days, use them.  If you can't get away at the moment, then make sure you are taking your day off.  You would be surprised how helpful even a few hours away can be to getting past a wall.  

Get out of your routine.
I say this as one who LOVES routine.  I want to know what I'm doing and when I'm supposed to do it.  I plan out my days and get a bit stressed when things get out of whack.  But, when I hit a creativity wall, sometimes doing something out of the norm will help me a lot.  It might be going to a store and looking for object lesson ideas (Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby are two of my favorites for this activity), or perhaps taking a drive to a Christian Book Store that I do not normally frequent and simply browsing it's merchandise.  Before I go into the store, I simply breathe a prayer like, "Lord, show me something I need to see," or "Please speak to me," and then when I go into the store, I look purposely for something God can speak to me through.  And, let me tell you, it is amazing the things God will sometimes speak to me through.  A random item could spawn an entire lesson idea or the perfect craft will be sitting there waiting on me.  God is always trying to speak to us and when you actively listen, you may be amazed at what He will show you.  Usually, when in stores, I'm a woman on a mission to get a task accomplished, but this shopping trip is different.  The mission is simply to hear from God, and that is an entirely different experience.  But it never fails to refresh my soul and kick my creativity into gear.  Perhaps, you would enjoy an outdoor activity or a drive.  Whatever you choose, simply ask God to speak to you and then really listen for his still small voice to respond.  It may just come from a place you least expected it.

Find an accountability partner.
Ministry is emotionally draining and we need someone we can talk to who will encourage us, pray for us, and keep us accountable.  This person should be someone you trust fully and someone you can confide in.  Perhaps a pastor from another church or a friend outside your current ministry.  But this person needs to be someone who will ask you questions like, "How's your devotional life?" "Did you take your day off this week?" "Are you spending too many hours in the office?" "How's your walk with the Lord?" "Are you spending enough time with your family?"  We need someone who will come along side us and pray for us, but also who is willing to ask the tough questions about whatever might be taking a toll on us emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually.  I suggest another person in ministry because they will know and understand the stresses you are under, but it doesn't have to be a ministry colleague.  It should, however, be someone of the same sex as you.  If you don't have one already, I highly suggest you look for an accountability partner. 

We all get tired.  We all have those times of hitting a wall, but the important thing is that you get passed the wall.  Don't let it stay in your way.  God has big plans for all of us and we can not allow walls to get in our way.  I hope this gives you some ideas of how to get around them when they come. 

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