Sometimes I avoid my own emotions like Covid. I mask up & say I’m “too busy” or I socially distance as a means of self protection. I could be walking around at church or the office feeling depressed, or insecure, lacking faith, feeling hurt, abandoned, disrespected, hated. These are real emotions that I feel inside but I mentally know it can’t be 100% true. And even with turmoil on the inside I sit at staff meetings or stand on stage and preach from a hard heart – keeping everything inside under tight security.
I imagine some of you, aware or not, do this to some extent.
Why do we do this? Why aren’t we digging around & tilling the soil of our hearts? Why don’t we take intentional blocks of time & dedicate it to our inner, emotional, spiritual health? …Because we are scared of what we will encounter once we go inward. And we know it’s messy, complicated, & we think it’s just easier for everyone if we avoid it.
Unfortunately, It’s much easier for people like you & me to just to stay distracted by endless ministry activity & ignore the most important parts of our being: heart + soul.
About a year ago, I had enough of my own pretending, masking, & distancing. I read a book called The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Pete Scazerro that helped me rediscover a meaningful inner life with Jesus.
After reading the book & participating in a cohort with 16 pastors & church leaders across the the country – I finally started to see how emotionally unhealthy I was (and still am to some degree).
3 things happened in my life this past year:
#1-I Faced My Shadow: I had to intentionally choose not to avoid the negative parts of my emotional life. I started waking up reaallly early (even before Levi was born) to set aside time to deal with my emotions. I started naming my actual feelings with honesty and vulnerability. And today I’m confessing & sharing them with you.
I hope you will follow me in this, and begin to ask yourself “Why am I feeling this?” This will help you grow in deeper self-awareness. You cannot change what you are unaware of.
#2-I prioritized my family: my best sermon is not preached on a stage, & it’s not preached for an audience. My best sermon is to an audience of 4, and my best investment is into a crowd of 3 kids. I can authentically say my marriage is healthiest part of my leadership life. I’m a better husband than I am a preacher, pastor, church leader, etc. One thing I’ve learned in ministry over the years is that people will target you with their criticisms & complaints, even those you least expect, and you can spend your whole day trying to please everyone and pander to all the wishes of people… only to come home emotionally drained…and your spouse & kids get your leftovers. This is not fair to your marriage or family. Your ministry job…is just a job. It’s a paycheck. Don’t let your job beat up your family.
#3-I Paced Myself: You cannot do healthy ministry while running 100mph all the time. Unknowingly, your life is constantly announcing “Im busy! Im working hard! I never take vacation! Im up all night! I’m tired” And the message of the gospel isn’t heard because you’re too busy.
I have grown to hate the phrase “I know you’re busy” The LAST THING I want is for the people I lead to think I’m busy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you be lazy. That’s not the opposite of busy. I’m suggesting you get your priorities right. Busyness is an indication of misaligned priorities. As leaders, we need to go at a slower pace, so we can pay attention to the things that matter.
Friends, if you made it this far, please know that I love you and care about you more today than I ever have.
I’m praying that together we can be transformed deeply & grow roots into Jesus…which will lead to greater impact in our church.