by: Clayton King
It’s Monday morning and I have been awake since 5 AM. This is common for me so don’t be alarmed. But I am not alone.
Thousands of pastors join me in sleeplessness, either waking up way too early or staying up way too late. Why? Because it is part of paying the price to do what God has called us to do. The excitement and adrenaline, as well as the difficulties and discouragements of ministry often times make it next to impossible for us to enjoy the natural rythms of life that others experience.
There is no denying that ministry creates situations that lead to stress, pressure, depression and anxiety. (If you question that statement, then you are not involved in pastoral ministry or full time church work). The key is not how we AVOID these situations, for the only way to avoid them is to QUIT THE MINISTRY. The key is to see them coming, prepare for the impact, and weather the storm.
I have several little secrets that I have learned over the years. Let me share just one with you today.
I go to my refuge.
I see Jesus throughout the gospels retreating to quiet places all alone. He gets up early, while it is still dark, and avoids the people and the places that will pull on Him and require Him to do stuff, like miracles, teaching, and conversation. He steals away to hidden spots and meets with His heavenly Father.
I have a place like that. When we built our house, the only thing I wanted was a room of my own, a place of solitude and quiet where I could meet with God, read books, pray, and be alone. It looks and feels like me; thousands of books on the shelves, a leather recliner in the corner, my 400 lb. bear skin rug on the wall (that I killed myself), my laptop, my desk, and piles of papers.
When I wake up, that is where I go. I sit in the recliner, grab my Bible or a book I am reading, play some classical music in the background, and spend time alone with The Lord. Sometimes I have a cup of coffee. Often times my boys come in and want to talk or sit in my lap and be silly. Yet no matter what happens during that time, it’s the very thing that centers my heart, focuses my mind, and helps me begin the day thinking about Christ, not me and my long list of things that must be done.
What is your place of refuge? Where do you go to escape, be still, and breathe? If you don’t have one yet, find one as quickly as possible and do whatever it takes to go underground. It may be the very thing that saves your sanity and your ministry.
Learn more about Clayton King.