Flora Slosson Wuellner in her book, "Prayer, Stress, and our Inner Wounds" says that often those who are called to minister to all people -- whether we are Ministers of Word and Sacrament or Elders or those who teach Bible Study or a Youth Group-- are frequently tired and drained and frustrated people. This is called Leadership fatigue. And leadership fatigue is created within ourselves when we believe that we must do everything... we believe that it is all up to us. This, in turn, creates super-responsibility. We come to believe that the Kingdom of God will only continue because of our righteous efficiency, our ability to love and heal.
We all know that the Kingdom of God is not totally built upon our own selves, we know that we share this love of God and this responsibility with others. Yet. Yet while we realize that we can delegate, and we do delegate yet more and more of our life seems to become looking after other's problems. Then we begin to harbour our super-responsibilities inwardly. This is the point where we must stop and sit down and pray. This is the point where we have become generators rather than transmitters of the Divine. Wuellner says that those who take on super-responsibility and inwardly never delegate and never take time to pray because we are so busy, overlook Jesus' challenge to be the branches... instead we try to be the vine... John 15: 4- 5. We become generators instead of transmitters of the love of God.
Three things will help with those who take on super-responsibility. First is a time of prayer. When one is so overloaded with work and burdens and committees and the work of the Church, often making time for prayer is hard. Prayer does take time. But prayer is our lifeline to God. Prayer is the evening breeze or the morning sun. Prayer is what sustains and nurtures us. The more we pray, the less exhausting it will be and the more we find ourselves daily or hourly or every minute turning to God.
Second is letting others serve us and minister to us. At the Last Supper, Peter had a problem when Jesus wanted to wash his feet until Jesus said that Jesus must wash Peter's feet or Peter will have no part of the Kingdom of God. Then Peter said for Jesus to wash every part of him. (John 13). While we serve and minister to others and are an example of the love of Christ, we must also let others serve and minister to us! Ask another person to pray for you and be specific of your needs! Ask another person to go for a walk. Book two hours into your date book and go sit in a park with your Bible and just read (especially the Psalms!). Be refreshed and renewed in God's love.
Third is to ask for forgiveness and then tell God three things that you were thankful for today. Forgiveness is not only a cleansing of our souls but also a cleansing of our lives. Too often in ministry we equate our work with who we are. We look at how many people attend worship.. and then subtly compare our numbers to other Churches. We look at how many committees we are on compared to other people. If our church attendance numbers go down, we feel diminished. When we end up with so many committee meetings, we suddenly realize that we are overburdened but there is seemingly no way out of the burden. Stop. Sit. Pray prayers of forgiveness and thanksgiving.
As we grow in God in prayer, we shall become more like Christ. As we grow in God through inner reflection, we shall love and our burdens will be lifted. As we grow in God through reading of God's Word, we shall become compassionate. As we grow in the love of God, we are made whole.
Is it really as simple as this? Yup. Today and this week, make time for prayers, especially those of forgiveness and thanksgiving... make time for reading God's Holy Word... make time for asking one person to pray for you...
Prayer: Great God, we come before You today knowing that it is through Your love that our hearts are restored, our energies make new, and our lives are simple and good. Divine Healer, send down upon us today Your Holy Spirit so that Your healing power may flow through our whole body and we are made whole. Almighty God, may the power of this new life flow into our actions and our relationships with others this day. God of all reconciliation, we lay before You now those that we have hurt..... those who have hurt us........ and those deeds we have forgotten to do....... Through Your love we know that we are forgiven and made whole in Your love and peace. Wash us O LORD in Your love so that we are made clean inwardly and outwardly. Holy God, we bring before You know three things for which we are thankful.......... Thank You Lord Jesus Christ. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world with out end. Amen.