I still remember the moment the first ”launch” service ended at our small church plant. It was 11:01 AM on that Grand Opening Sunday, and at 11:01 and thirty seconds, this thought came to my mind:
SUNDAY IS ONLY 7 DAYS AWAY
This deep sinking feeling that came over me at that moment used to haunt me every Sunday after the service until I found my pace. When it comes to everyone finding the ebb and flow of your life, you must remember that God created you to be you. You may not be able to keep the pace I keep, and I may not be able to keep your pace. Everyone is created uniquely different. But this one thing I know:
IF YOU DO NOT FIND YOUR PACE, YOU ARE HEADED TO BURNOUT
Starting a new church is the hardest thing that I have ever done but, at the same time, the most rewarding. At any given moment, I may feel like giving up, or I may feel like charging ahead. Finding my pace has helped me come to a place in my life where I am at peace with what God is doing in my life. Here are some practical ideas for finding your pace:
1. As the Lead Planter, you must create your own schedule that works for you and your family
Do not worry about what other people think about your schedule, including your church members and your supporters. If you start trying to please them with the ebb and flow of your life, you will get into a vicious cycle that will leave you empty and depressed. Set your own schedule.
2. Adjust your schedule monthly.
Take time at the end of each month and look at your calendar. Plan days or chunks of time for dreaming, praying, and listening to God, and do not apologize for it. But remember, each month is different, and you will have to adjust each month.
3. Schedule your daily time with God.
Treat this time like an appointment that you have with God every day. Do not answer the phone, and do not have email, Twitter, or Facebook notifications on. Take this time however long you need, and put it on your daily calendar as an appointment.
4. Eat Right and Exercise.
I never knew how much the food I ate and the exercise I put in or did not put in affected my emotions until I went through a dark time of depression in my life that I thought would never end. When I started eating better and exercising regularly, my physical body started reacting to different stressful situations in a positive way. Find what works for you, but do it!
5. Find your pace with your preaching schedule.
Even though it may come easy for you, one of the most stressful things you do every week is preach. You need a break. I usually take blocks of time in the summer off. But as the church grew, I realized I needed to have a different pace. With multiple services and more responsibility, I find now that my pace is four weeks on and one week off. Remember, it is God’s church, and it is not about you! You must find your pace in preaching. As an added side note, by having people preach in your place, you will raise up leaders and plan your preaching out in advance. But that is part of finding your pace.
6. Meet with a Counselor.
One of the most rewarding things that I have done to slow down and find my pace is meeting with a good Christian Counselor. There have been times over the last few years when I met with one weekly for a period of time, then monthly. I think it is a good idea to just check in with a counselor once a year, just like you would check in with a medical doctor for an annual physical. It is very freeing to talk to someone about the issues in your life. Do not wait until it is too late.
These are just a few things that have helped me find my pace. What about you? What do you do to find your pace? What are some steps you need to take today to head burnout off at the pass?