There are seasons and times in life where our energies are lower than at other times. Recently the nights started to draw in earlier, and the sun began to rise later. The days are shorter, and the weather is colder. Winter is almost upon us. This is one of those ‘seasons’ in the annual UK calendar when energies are low, and tiredness seems all the closer. It’s almost like the darker days, makes our bones colder, and our bodies slower. This also impacts how we are thinking, and also impacts our spiritual energy.
If the team here had a pound for every time we have heard each otherm and Church members, talking about tiredness, fatigue, feeling burnt out, or just ‘low energy’ we would have raised enough to build a community cafe. It seems we have all felt the effect of the change in season.
As a Church the past six months have held much change:
- The Church moved from ‘online’ to ‘in the building’
- Members of All Saints joined with the original members to revitalise St Paul’s Newton, and become St Paul’s Church, Stockton.
- We have a staff team!
- Rotas have been flying around, getting each of us actively serving one another
It’s no wonder some of us feel tired and heavy leaden. We recognise this. We applaud the love and service of our Church family. We refuse to ignore the realities we face as a Church.
Last week Paul , Stuart and Brennan joined the Durham Diocese Church Planting Learning Community hosted in Gateshead. It was two full days of input and inspirational teaching, followed by the opportunity to strategically think about what the next two years might look like for a Church revitalisation like ours. Keep an eye our for an article or two about that coming soon!
One of the speakers briefly addressed the issue of ministry ‘burnout’ with five tips on avoiding it. Bear in mind that he is not addressing medical conditions here, but is addressing how we keep our energy and faith alive when we feel frazzled. Here are his five top tips:
Have a Vision that guides what you do
As a Church keep your vision the main thing. Centre it on Jesus and trust the Spirit to lead you. When we travel in God’s direction we limit our activities to the vision he has given to us. For us at St Paul’s that means ensuring that all our activity really does lead us to presenting the beating heart of God’s love for Stockton. Limit Church activity to this so that energies are preserved.
Vision energises and reenergises us regularly. Proverbs states that without vision the people perish.
Disciplines that form you and hold you
The definition of ‘a Discipline’ is that it is something you do on a very regular basis – it is a habit that forms you into something. There are good and bad habits. Let’s not be like the guy in the photo above. In our context good disciplines might include, but not exclusively:
- Reading the bible
- Regular exercise
- Prayer walking
- Meeting with other believers
- Living generously
- Meeting in a Life Group with other believers
- Being involved in mission activities that present God’s love to others
- Being Creative (art; designing; writing; etc.)
Close relationships that energise and protect you
Positive relationships and friendship really do protect us. It’s important for accountability (giving and receiving life wisdom and advice), purity and steadfastness of life and faith. No one is created to be alone – we are created for relationship with God and each other. Perhaps you have been in a small group before: you will know the support that can be given there. When you feel like giving up, having others around you to encourage you; pray for you; and laugh with you is a real boost to how we can be feeling.
Know God and know yourself
Keep growing in your relationship with God. REALLY get to know him through reading the Bible. As you read the scriptures as yourself “what does this teach me about God”. Learn to know God through your Bible readings.
But don’t stop there.
It’s possible to know what God is like, but not really know God. Many people make this mistake. So what do we do?
We learn to listen to the voice of God in scripture, but also as we pray. Ask God questions as you pray. Then listen. Enjoy the stillness that prayer can bring. It can be restful to pray. And in that stillness you might just hear the still small voice of God gently leading you, and ministering to your soul. At times it seems that God is not listening or talking, but often when we look back on our faith journey we realise how he was speaking, leading and guiding. Get to know God personally and regularly.
Life-long learning mentality (disciples’ attitude)
It is proven that continuing to learn things keeps the mind sharp, and can protect us from ailments as we get older (it’s not guaranteed though!). Learning keeps our minds alert and can also reenergise us – when we are learning things that we are passionate about.
Rest and Work Balance
We recently had a very different style of Church where we Rested and Created in the presence of God. May we each find the balance of life where we ‘rest from work’ and ‘work from rest’. If you are struggling with burnout make sure you speak with somebody about it. Seek prayer, seek rest, seek support, and look after yourself.