By: Pastor ODC
Happy New Year!!! 2016 is here, and excitement fills the air, for some but not all. I have been in conversation with several people who have voiced their ongoing frustrations with battling to overcome the many stresses they encountered during 2015. Ironically, several of these conversations have included pastors and spiritual leaders, who have been doing a “good work” for the Lord and His people. In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the participants on this “I’m Blessed but Stressed Hotline.”
Yes, here at the very start of the year 2016, instead of being excited and energetic I feel exhausted and empty. I am mentally drained and running on “E”, hoping I could cross off one more item on “my” to-do-list before I completely run out of gas. It appears that my efforts to be “successful” (fruitful – more spiritual word) are producing more stress than success. Moreover, my efforts have taken a negative effect on my body and my spirit. My body is battered, and my soul is sick from the clutter invading my life. I have been emptying myself for others but have not cared enough for myself to refill my own tank.
So I asked myself, what is the problem? I mean I’m doing a good work; in fact, I would argue I have been fulfilling my calling. I have been selflessly offering myself to bless others, and those efforts have brought me much joy and fulfillment. Yet, how could something so fulfilling leave me feeling so empty and burnout? Subsequently, upon pondering this thought, I grew confused. Was the problem within me or not spending enough time taking care of me? While these are the common diagnoses for those who experience my symptoms, they are not the answers to my condition. The fact of the matter is I have gotten so focused on others that I lost focus of HIM. Shame on you Pastor! I have been so focused on what He told me to do that I lost focus of who He called me to be!! In my efforts to fulfill my “calling,” I forgot the first call on my life, the call to be a disciple. That’s right, before I was called to pastor and preach, I was called to be a follower of Jesus, a Jesus lover, a Jesus fanatic, a Jesus freak! I was called to daily devotionals, believing prayer, and joyful intimate fellowship with Christ.
This is what Jesus meant when He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). When we focus on Him, He will enable us to effectively handle our to-do-list. He will restore our joy, renew our strength, and reorder our steps. He will grant us grace, give us wisdom, and govern our hearts and minds with His peace. God never intended for us to do it alone; He wants to do it through us. The Apostle Paul testifies, “For this I toil, struggling with all HIS energy that HE powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29). So if you’re a pastor, spiritual leader, or lay leader who is experiencing frustration and fatigue, allow me to share with you what God shared with me, “Refocus on Him and never become so focused on doing the disciple’s work that you lose focus of being a disciple.”