May 28, 2018
Put In More Than you Take Out – Part 1
John Strappazon reminds collegiate leaders that leading and developing students well means you put in more than you take out.
Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
– Vince Lombardi, former head coach, Green Bay Packers
I remember, as a new Christian, becoming very frustrated with my life and going to see my college minister for help. I was all knotted up inside by a combination of family problems, school challenges, and personal disappointments. I anticipated that after I poured my heart out to him, I’d leave with some sage spiritual advice. What I heard that day, while at first seemed like he wasn’t taking my situation seriously, has served me well for many years.
His sage advice, which still kind of amazes me, was, “John, I think what you need is a nap”. I thought, a nap!? That’s it!? Are you kidding me!?
Well, even though I felt a little short changed at the time, I did what he said and immediately went home and grabbed a nap. To my amazement, when I awoke I found that, while nothing had changed with my family, my assignments or me, I felt hopeful. My life seemed more livable and less overwhelming.
Now, I don’t want to downplay the need to face problems and seek solutions, but many times the issues people are dealing with are blown out of proportion by fatigue. Anger, confusion, frustration, and at times even rebellion can be traced back to fatigue.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah, after defeating 450 prophets of Baal, is found running for his life from one woman, Jezebel. He is even lamenting of life itself. Elijah’s ready to check out. Why? What happened to him? It appears that fatigue has made a coward of Elijah.
Fatigue can make a coward of your leaders too. God has made us as both spiritual and physical beings. These two are inseparable. One has impact on the other. As ministry leaders, we need to keep an eye on the energy level of our leaders, and the pace and place in which they are expending their energy. Anyone, even the strongest, most stable, can fall prey to fatigue.
Our tendency, in our zealousness for the ministry, is to push, push, push and not think about the consequences. Energy is a limited resource. It needs replenishing and it needs to be spent wisely.
God was patient with Elijah and didn’t take his “death wish” seriously. The Lord knew exactly what was going on inside Elijah and provided him with just what he needed, rest and refreshment. These, provided in just the right proportions, revived him and readied him for the coming challenges.
You, as the leader, have a responsibility to nurture and develop your leaders for, not just the explosive moments of ministry, but a life-time of effective ministry. The Bible calls this nurturing, shepherding.
Here are 4 things successful spiritual leaders do.
1. Accept and take seriously their role as the shepherd.
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:1-2 (ESV)
2. Spend some time focusing on the energy replenishing needs of their flock, especially their leaders.
Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, Proverbs 27:23 (ESV)
3. Develop their skills as a shepherd.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psalm 78:72 (NIV)
4. Ask God what to do.
…and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter… Ecclesiastes 8:5-6 (NIV)
My college minister, though he had more than a thousand college students to minister to, took the time to shepherd me. And in the process, he showed me that I meant more to him and to the Lord than the service I could provide. Today, he remains one of the four most influential people in my life. Looking back, a lot was asked of me from the ministry in college, but I believe more was invested in me than taken from me.