“Minister out of overflow.” That’s what I often tell leaders, and what I mean is: All leaders, and Christian leaders specifically, need to have a means of setting their compass in the right direction and walking steadily until they reach their destination.
The reality of leadership is: Competent people get more responsibility and more responsibility often means that leader has to work harder. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for a leader’s life to resemble a hamster on a wheel. The hamster may be running, but he’s not actually going anywhere. And before we know it, another leader has succumbed to burn-out, dehydration, or the destruction of their personal relationships. Some leaders either quit or get fired.
This is the inevitable result when leaders loose sight of the end goal, and get distracted on the journey to their intended destination. How do we avoid this downward spiral? I’m a pretty simple person so I like to stick with the basics.
I reset my compass or focus daily. For me this includes Bible reading and/or study, prayer (which often includes confession and intercession), and sometimes praise and worship (through song). Being in God’s presence in this way, reminds me of the truth of his Word.
God will not leave me or forsake me. God will give me enough grace to do the things He wants me to today. God cares about the things that concern me. God equips me to prioritize my day.
This time also reminds me of the fragileness of my human condition and heart. Time alone with God reminds me that I need him, that I most certainly will make a mess if I try to force things and do them my own way. Being in his presence through prayer makes me more compassionate and deepens my relationships and concern for those God has placed in my path. This time allows me to draw from God’s well-spring, so I can give abundantly throughout the day. That’s overflow.
As I am no longer 20-years-old, I’m also more conscious of how I care for my body. We only get one body. A couple years ago, my husband brought to my attention that whenever I was on the phone with a girlfriend who asked, “How you doin’?” My response was, “Girl, I’m tired.” It was the truth. I was often tired, mostly because I was not getting enough sleep. I had grown accustomed to surviving on approximately five hours of sleep…and that’s all I was doing—surviving. I’m more intentional now about getting at least seven hours a sleep on most nights. I drink water all day. I try to work out at least three days per week. My household is also increasing intake of the things we do need (like fruit, vegetables, and whole wheat) while minimizing the things we don’t need (pork, fried foods, etc).
None of this has been regimented. It’s simply been a minor change here and there. For example, I’m a night owl so I had to make a commit to myself that I would walk away from my desk around 10:30 pm, especially if I have to get up early the next morning. I do all of this simply because I feel better as a result of these changes. Being tired doesn’t make me alert while reading or writing; it makes me less attentive to my husband and impatient with my daughter. It doesn’t make me a better person or great leader. If I’m tired all of the time, I’m not giving my best so there is no overflow.
I always take my life instructions from the Bible. I particularly pay attention to the lives and actions of biblical leaders and their advice to their followers. The apostle Paul was one such leader. He wrote instructions to his follower, Timothy, stating the goal of his instruction: Love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (I Tim. 1:5). That’s how I want to live and lead, and to do that, I regularly seek God’s presence and help to clear out the junk in my life.
How do you minister out of overflow? Are there things you need to remove or jump start?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013