Inspiration

How to Avoid Burnout and Painful Member Care Obstacles

member care
Burnout! That common condition that we hate to see our friends go through. Depression. A mental health issue more common in ministry leaders lives than you would think. Marital difficulty or divorce. Again, not unusual. Heart attack! Almost predictable in busy leaders who don’t take care of their health.  These issues are a major concern for those trying to start movements, especially in pioneer regions of the world. Member care issues join our list of obstacles that block a Disciple Making Movement.

Not Only Strategy Matters

Many of the things which block a movement’s growth have to do with strategy. But the health of those initiating the movement also plays a key role. When team members are overworked, emotionally drained and struggle in their own lives and families, it has a major impact on the movement.

Exhaustion That Runs Deep

I had never felt so exhausted in my life. One doctor who saw me called it “chronic fatigue”. I could barely walk up the stairs without becoming so tired I had to sit down. I was completely depleted. A few weeks off helped me to recover…somewhat.  Then another crisis hit. A medical evacuation of a fellow missionary. They nearly died. I came home and collapsed. There was absolutely nothing left inside of me. I didn’t realize that following that pattern in my life would lead me toward medically diagnosed depression. I would later face a season when I needed to take significant time off to get medical care and help. Paul, the great movement initiator knew what this kind of exhaustion felt like. The pressure of ministry can be incredibly heavy upon us. 

“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” 2 Cor. 11:28 NIV

Stop It!

A pastor I often listen to online said recently, “Don’t give out more than you take in. That is just plain dumb! Stop it.” That is about as direct as it can get.  There is real truth in his statement. At times, we need to hear it said that way. We can be a bit dumb when it comes to taking care of ourselves.  As passionate people deeply committed to the Great Commission, we give and give and give. We push ourselves to help others, even when there is little left inside. Sometimes we give out more than we have taken in. Eventually, it catches up with us and we pay the price. Often the movement does too. Maintaining spiritual, physical, emotional and relational health is crucial. It is necessary if we want to release a thriving, multiplying, and sustained movement. Below are some of the things I have tried to practice to keep myself and my team healthy.  How to Keep Yourself And Your Team Healthy

1) Practice spiritual disciplines like Sabbath.

Do you take a weekly day to rest and refill? Or do you go week after week without any breaks? Many church planters do.  We tend to think we are somehow superhuman and able to keep going without rest. But God didn’t create us to function that way. The Sabbath is a command of God for a reason. He gave us that law to bless us with the health we need. We can not give out what we don’t have. Each week, find a way to practice Sabbath personally and as a team. I’ve written several articles on this that you may find helpful.

2) Maintain boundaries, even when growth is happening.

In community-oriented cultures, this is quite difficult. But it is necessary. Brene Brown in her book, Rising Strong, says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Henry Cloud has also written an excellent book called Boundaries for Leaders.  It is easy to feel like the needs of those you minister to and lead must take priority. Christian ministers can feel they must have their phone on 24-7. They must always be available to those they lead.  This is a recipe for burn out. While we are called to love others deeply, we must also love ourselves. We show that by setting and upholding boundaries.  That means learning to say, “I will meet you tomorrow. Today I have another appointment.” Even when that “appointment” is your date night with your spouse or taking a nap on your Sabbath.

3) Seek out mentors and peer community.

Make sure you have upward mentoring in your life. The more we grow in leadership and ministry the more difficult it can be to find mentors who speak into our lives. We are helping many, but who is helping us? Take responsibility to find those people and seek them out.  Also, look for peers you can relate with. Take time for those Skype or WhatsApp calls with an old friend. Join a peer group like the one we have for DMMs. Cultivate meaningful relationships, even when it takes energy to do so. It is vital to your emotional health.

4) Practice “friendly accountability” related to your physical health.

Do you have someone who holds you accountable for things like exercise, healthy eating, and sleep? If you crash and burn, chances are the movement will too. Maintaining your health is much easier than recovering from burn out or depression. Set goals in these areas and then find someone to hold you accountable and encourage you. We are whole people. Our physical health is as important to God as the rest of us. Make space in your life for exercise and sleep. Don’t believe the lie that you are superhuman and don’t need sleep like other people. Get regular physical check ups.  Your healthy lifestyle speaks loudly of what you value. It’s part of being a disciple-maker to model this too.

5) Make space in your life for friendships and play. read more

Top 15 Barriers to Starting a Disciple Making Movement

Barriers to starting a disciple-making movement

On May 6th, 1954 Sir Roger Bannister did something that everyone said was impossible. He ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Up until then, people had said it was an unbreakable barrier. Doctors made strong statements saying it was not only dangerous to try to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. They, in fact, said that it was humanly impossible. This was a record that would never be broken. Until it was. After Roger did it, in a few short months, many others also ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Today the world record is held by a man named Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco. He ran a mile in 3:43:13. We think some things are impossible and difficult barriers to Disciple-Making Movements. They are not. read more

What Do You Have In Common With Winston Churchill?

tenacity in disciple making movements

Never, never, never, give in!” These were the words of Winston Churchill during one of England’s bleakest moments. It was 1941 and Hitler’s troops were advancing. The American forces had not yet entered the war and things looked bad for Europe. He went on to say, *“Never yield to force; tenacity in disciple making movementsnever yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” We need great tenacity in Disciple-Making Movements (DMMs). We must never, never, never give in until God’s Kingdom is established and growing among the unreached. read more

Suffering and Disciple Making Movements

Suffering and Disciple Making Movements

Kidnapping and even martyrdom are possibilities. Unusual illnesses are common. Intense spiritual warfare and stressed out marriages- sign me up! I want to start a DMM. Or not. It is no joke to pursue the launching of a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) among the Unreached. Suffering and Disciple Making Movements seem to go hand in hand.

The costs are real and the challenges great. How do we keep from being destroyed by the incredible cost of this effort?

What Makes It Worth It?

Suffering is inevitable in everyone’s life. It is particularly noticeable though, in the lives of those who pursue DMMs. It is not just likely, it is highly probable that you will face intense suffering as you work to start a movement. Some would say that experiencing suffering is characteristic of those who launch movements. read more

Overwhelmed By The Task?

overwhelmed by the task

Every single second someone in India dies not having heard the gospel. That’s 60 people in a minute. Each one is precious to God. The number of hairs on their head are known by Him. He watched them cry and laugh. He saw their joys and pain. Yet they die, having never heard of His love. India is one of many places where the needs of the unreached are massive. We could talk about the Middle East, China, Africa, or Bangladesh. Sometimes, when we see this great need, we feel completely overwhelmed by the task. read more

The Struggle to Believe for Disciple Making Movements

Do you ever struggle for faith that disciple making movements are possible? Or possible in your place? Or possible through you?  I certainly have.  I’m not proud of it, but it is true.

Sometimes in what Michael Hyatt calls the “messy middle” we stop believing.  The “messy middle” is a place between the vision’s beginning and it’s realization. It’s the place where we wonder if our dream is possible.

My Struggle For Faith

There was a long “messy middle” for me.  It was 20 years from when I heard about DMMs (back then we spoke of multiplying daughter and grand-daughter churches) and the time I first saw 4th generation groups.  On that journey, I often wanted to quit. I regularly doubted it could happen. read more

Key #2 DMM Breakthrough Growth: Perseverance

Last week’s blog was about Praying with Faith. That is the first key to seeing breakthroughs in disciple making movements. The second key for breakthrough and growth is perseverance.

Perseverance – Lessons from Snoozy

When I was a kid we had a dog named Snoozy.  She loved to play.  We would take an old sock, tie a knot in it, and let her grab hold of the end.  A game of “tug of war” then started.  As soon as we got the sock away, (and it was hard work to finally do that) Snoozy would lunge after it again.  The game could go on for hours! read more

3 Important Things to Do as You Start the New Year

The New Year approaches! One of my favorite moments this Christmas came the day after.  I sat for a few hours beside our Christmas tree. It was early morning.  I found myself reflecting on the goodness of God in my life over this past year.  I allowed those moments to surface in my memory- the times when He had protected me, given guidance to me, surprised me with His kindness or favor.  How very, very good He has been!

New Year

Remembering His goodness in the past year

  1. REFLECT.

-How has God shown you His goodness this past year? read more

God-Sized Goals

God sized goals

When sharing the vision for Disciple Making Movements (DMMs) most people are excited to hear what God is doing.  As a Christian worker, who wouldn’t want to see a movement of genuine Jesus followers?  We all do!  It’s not hard to get people on board with the vision.  It is more difficult motivating people to make necessary changes in what they believe and how they do ministry.  Many also struggle with believing it is possible to see these kinds of movements in their area, or through them. read more

You Are a Royal Priest

royal priest

Our beliefs about who we are, dramatically impact how we behave.  In the last blog I talked about who we are as people God has chosen to bear much fruit.  We are the chosen ones.  Today I want to focus on another aspect of identity – who you are as a royal priest of God.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- NIV

It’s important to understand the major shift Jesus brought about when he went to the cross and rose again.  He destroyed the old system of Levitical priesthood and established a new system where all who followed Him would be royal priests. In the new covenant you are not physically born into the priesthood.  Instead, when you receive Jesus, you are spiritually born into this status. read more