As important as the validity and credibility of one's ministry is, the high of achieving each success wears off in a matter of days. The cycle of addiction is run by the inner drug store. The next success must be bigger and better. The adrenalin highs and lows was exhausting and corrosive of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual resilience.
Sustainability and endurance needs to be explored in every facet of the ordination process, as well after ordination, especially in the first ten years of full-time ministry. What will make churches grow and flourish is not disconnected from the parish context and history, lay ministry partners, my gifts and those closest to me- my family.
If I only lived from the high of the next achievement, how could I expect anyone in the parish not to follow a path to burn-out and purposelessness. How could I expect to leave something of continuing value?
What I'm Learning
Sustainability in life-long ministry requires endurance and resilience, even though I'm pulled into the vortex of proving my value in the short term.
- Important as small successes are, when I live and die by them, the season of brown-out is sure to follow.
- Regularly, consider usefulness and purpose in ministry as an inoculation against burn-out.
- Let time-management be guided not by estimated hours or tasks, but flow of energy- when full presence may drop.
- Consider in reflection: What long-term good will my work serve?
- How can I find mutual support with others? Who are the people in my support system?