Boars Head and Getting Old

We pulled into our Florida hideaway around 10:30 last night.  After a great Sunday at CCC, the eight hour drive made our beds seem all the more comfy. Sherry and I talked a bit about the privilege of having a study break over the years. We’ve been doing this summer routine for about ten years. It has helped our family, marriage, and ministry remain vital and connected. It’s incredibly reassuring to be a part of a church that values the longevity of a pastor through proactive breaks like this.

Since today was an official holiday, I thought I would take it somewhat easy, sleep in, and then go get some breakfast groceries for Sherry. I didn’t expect to get much done today. Perhaps I would get a couple chapters of reading in. Maybe.

At the Publix deli counter, I spotted a rack of books. I wondered what having a book stocked at Publix would be like. I can only dream! I saw one book title that sucked me in. “Leading On Empty (refilling your tank and renewing your passion).” I didn’t feel like I was necessarily leading on empty, but study break is ALWAYS about refueling and refreshing passion. “Leading On Empty” was written by Wayne Cordeiro. I have read some of his books before. “Doing Church As A Team” is one of my favorites.

Along with my half pound of Boars Head smoked chicken breast (sliced very thinly), I put this new title by Cordeiro in my buggy. I actually thought this might be a good read for someone else God was placing on my heart. It probably wouldn’t invade any of my personal study break space.

I read the whole book today. It went well with my Bible study today from Haggai 1:2-11. Yeah, that’s right… Haggai. Bustin’ out the minor prophet on a Memorial Day weekend. Not bad, huh?

The prophet Haggai announced to very busy people how self-priorities would always war against having God-priorities. Fruit would either come or be stifled in relation to the Godly cadence, pace, and priorities of our lives.

Cordeiro’s book was all about cadence, pace, and priorities of life that allow for sustainable fruit. I needed to read this book. “A healthy cadence contributes a great deal to being a healthy pastor.”

It was good for me to identify my energy bursts throughout the day — and how I use them. My early, early morning with God is a good time for my soul. This past semester I lost my early time because of transporting kids to school. I need to regain this.

I have more energy bursts from 8-11 a.m. On certain days, this is prime reading and message prep time. That’s a very good way for me to spend energy bursts. However, on other days, I can take this same energy burst time and give it over to somewhat mindless things like email and Facebook connections/ministry. This doesn’t require a lot of energy, and I need to move these activities to a more low energy time of my day… like right after lunch.

Among all my energy bursts throughout the day (Cordeiro has seven), I also need to be intentional about saving at least one for the family when I get home. Not doing this is a critical mistake made by far too many husbands and pastors.

The energy burst thing made sense to me, and I think I also need to talk with the staff about this. “Leading On Empty” affirmed some of the things I’ve tried to do over the years (like study break) to avoid burnout and exhaustion. I want to be proactive in all of this so I can be around for the long haul. I want to know the warning signals of depression and lost hunger. I need to keep working through the differences of concerns and responsibilities. I want to focus on my top 5% that only I can do. I want to help people who feel more fried than a northerner’s first day in Florida. Cordiero writes, “Depression (burnout) is often a birthing process just before God makes a breakthrough. If you can look at depression as a gift and look at what God is going to do in you through it in the future, it can change your perspective about it.”

“Leading On Empty” was written from the author’s near-death, near-career-ending bout with burnout and depression as a pastor. Cordiero wants to last long, impact his grand kids, and finish strong. Cool stuff.

I want to do the same. I’m feeling the need to put guards and intentional efforts in place to finish the work God has given me. It’s probably the whole “50” landmark I just hit. Maybe it’s the first born’s recent graduation from high school. How will I adjust so I can mentor, help, and strengthen others instead of burning out and quitting from the rigors attached to being a pastor? I’m getting old. I had to really face this today. I did my normal beach run, but only went for a weak 22 minutes. Last year I ran for 30 minutes at a clip. Maybe that lean Boars Head (sliced thinly) will help a bit. One can only hope.

I don’t want to get old and quit. I know, as Cordeiro suggests, that God won’t hold me accountable for how much I’ve done, but rather for how much I’ve done of what He has asked me to do. I want to finish the race… His race.. well and healthy and effective.

Lord, help me to be wise with the life You’ve given me. Thanks for times of rest. Thanks for giving me a church family that encourages and helps me to stay fresh and revived.

Tomorrow I dive into Driscoll’s “Vintage Church.”

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