Sustaining a Life of Mission: On not burning out!
How do you feed yourself while holding down a job/family/life and leading a Missional Community?
Most of us manage to keep ourselves physically fed even when resources are tight. We know it’s sensible if we eat at regular intervals. If we try to live on snacks as we rush from one thing to another the end result is an unhealthy body, the loss of energy and the ability to function effectively. So why do we find it hard to keep spiritually fed when we know that it is crucial?
Are you honest with yourself about what you can sustain in relation to the people you live and work with? Do you work out the priorities in your life and try to make them happen? Do you review this regularly?
Managing time helps us to be physically present. To function and lead well we need to manage our energy – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. We each have a physical, emotional and spiritual well of energy which we need to keep filled and not allow it to get too low. Leading anything requires us to be fully engaged, prepared and focused. If we allow ourselves to become drained in our lives we become ineffective as leaders.
Leading a Missional Community isn’t something you should be doing on your own. It requires a team. Planing ahead and communicating well is crucial. Involve others in what you’re doing in your life and in your Missional Community. Always keep yourself accountable. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, challenge you and keep you accountable.
As we have led Missional Communities and supported Missional Community leaders one of the things we have observed is the tendency to make things too complicated. This increases the work load and pressure on the leader. If we spend too much time in planning and preparation we just won’t have the time or energy to feed ourselves spiritually.
It goes without saying that spending time with God both personal and corporate is vital. But be honest and ask yourself – How am I doing this? Is my personal time with God the best I can do? If not what am I going to do about it?
If you, as a leader, are not spiritually fed you won’t have anything to share with those you lead. We see very clearly from the Gospels that Jesus took regular time out to be alone with the Father and to be refreshed and restored. If it was important to Jesus then it is vital for us!
Keep focused and fresh in your Bible reading.
Ask one or two friends to pray for you and keep them updated on how to pray. Be honest with them.
Celebration and worship with others may be part of what you do when meeting in your Missional Community, but worshiping with the wider church family is very necessary. This should be a time when you receive. It may be at the Sunday Church Celebration when you don’t have the responsibility to lead in any way.
If you are leading a Missional Community then you should be in a huddle. Ensure you make your huddle a priority. It is a time to be vulnerable, to be challenged and to be cared for. It is a place and time to be able to share with others and to learn from them.
Accept teaching and training when available. It is a special time to receive, to learn and to grow. If necessary adjust some other things to make it possible.
Build into your schedule something you really enjoy doing. Ensure you have times when you relax and do nothing. For some of us this can be a challenge!
I no longer hold down a full time job while leading a Missional Community but I know and support Missional leaders who do. My routine now is generally lived at a more leisurely pace but I remember well the challenges there were for me. And sometimes I got it right but often I didn’t. You don’t have to figure it all out and get it all right. Having some predictable patterns in all of this will help us to be fed and sustained.
Jenny Rosser lives in Durham with her husband David. They have been involved in the development and implementation of Missional Communities for the past 11 years.