The Release Valve

Growing up with my father meant that I observed and assisted him in numerous repairs, both around the house and at his motor shop.  He was adept in all fields; mechanics, plumbing, wood working, and electrical.  During one of our "repair missions," my dad explained to me how important it was to open up the release valve on a particular apparatus in order to avoid an explosion that would destroy things and hurt people.

Looking back, there is no greater analogy that ministers and leaders need to understand than this one.  If we do not have a release valve in our lives, we will eventually explode, and we will destroy things and hurt people in the process.

If we do not have a release valve in our lives, we will eventually explode, and we will destroy things and hurt people in the process.

In ministry (and life in general), the things that we do and the things that are done to us create pressure.  The stress and anxiety of deadlines, responsibilities, decisions, sermon prep, personal crisis, and unexpected distractions causes a slow and steady build up of pressure inside of our souls.  Throw in kids, financial stress, sick family members, aging parents, trouble sleeping, or marital difficulty, and many of us are ticking time bombs just waiting to blow up.

When the explosion takes place (and it will if you don't have a release valve), we call it a meltdown, burnout, a psychological break, or a moral failure.  These occur when the pressure inside is greater than our ability to contain or control it.

Like trying to fill a tire with too much air, once it reaches its capacity, it simply cannot be stretched any further.  Humans are much more complex than tires, but we live under the same natural principle - we can only handle so much.

The key is to have a release valve.  When the pressure is too great, you must let off some steam.  Open up the emotional container that you have stuffed full and dump some of the excess.  You cannot empty it all out but you can unload the heavy, unecessary pressure than is crippling you emotionally and stiffling you spiritually. 

Do you have a release valve?  Do you do something annually, monthly, weekly, or daily that gets rid of the dead weight and helps re-orient you towards your relationship with God and your calling as a minister?  If you don't, you must prioritize this as one of the most important things in your life...immediately!

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