Getting away has always been hard for me. I feel like the weight of many peoples lives lean upon my faithfulness. They count on me to give them comfort, hope, purpose, and a weekly word from God. I try to get away a few times a year, but I can’t ever seem to get away.
My wife knows how hard it is for me. She tells me all the time when we are on vacation or an anniversary getaway, to let go of ministry for a few days. I do understand what she is saying, but in my heart I hear, “If you let go of your ministry thoughts you are letting go of God’s call on you life. You are letting go of your responsibility and call to help people.”
While on our latest getaway, (our 24th anniversary) I tried my best to disconnect. Amy asked me more than a few times to stop thinking of ministry and doing ministry. I smiled each time and said, “No problem, I will.” Thirty-seconds later while she was talking, I’m thinking of some family that needs my attention. I’m trying to listen to her and hear my own thoughts and plans that will help them through a difficult time.
I’m not particularly good at faking my wife out. She knows me too well, and yet she somehow still loves me. I don’t get it! I’m one lucky man for sure. Anyway, it doesn’t take long for my wife to see I’m lost in thought and not actually in the moment with her. It’s kind of like when the T.V. is on, and she is trying to communicate with me and I have part of my attention on the T.V. and part of my attention on her. It just doesn’t work for either one of us. At least in a T.V. situation she can and does just turn it off or hit the mute button to capture my attention.
I’m convinced my wife knows me better than I know myself. I’m certain God knows me better than myself, and I’m pretty sure He speaks through her often if I would just listen. Our latest getaway has certainly helped me. She told me many times to unplug and sadly it took me to the last day, but I think I’m beginning to understand a absolute truth. It’s a truth I know, but often I don’t apply properly. That true is, God doesn’t need me to do His work; He has called and chosen me to do His work.
The “need” part is where I get messed up. I often live my life like God needs me, and I put undue pressure on my life and family. Instead, I need to wake up the “CHOSEN ME” part. According to research 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations. I’m convinced much of the cause is because pastors, and yes, even spouses can’t let go when God has called them to rest.
I once read, “Pastor burnout is a weapon the enemy uses with great efficiency. It is surprising in its simplicity but brutal in its impact. Burnout begins by encouraging us to do what we do best – minister to people.” I’ve learned this last time away, sometimes I’m the people, and God wants to minster to my family and me.