Time for Some “R & R”?
By Len Woods
I have vivid memories of the final months of my 25+ years in pastoral ministry:
Plastering a big, fake smile on my face every day before I headed up to the office.
Mumbling—dozens of times a day—the same desperate two-word petition for survival: “Please, God…”
Telling a counselor, “I feel like I’m on the Bataan Death March.”
Thinking (at least weekly) What if I didn’t exit here and go to the coffee shop? What if I kept driving west?
I was burning out because I was emotionally ignorant, not emotionally intelligent.
A world-class people pleaser, I had zero boundaries and never told anyone “no.” Working 55-65 hours a week, I never took a Sabbath, nor did I engage in any soul-replenishing hobbies. A very imperfect perfectionist, I was forever fixated on my flaws (and constantly beating myself up). In short, my soul was a mess.
I needed two things: Rest and a re-ordered heart.
Rest. Medical experts helped me see that when we push too hard for too long without resting, our bodies have to start pumping adrenaline just to keep up. The problem is our adrenal glands were designed to provide an occasional, short-term boost—mostly for emergencies. Adrenalin was never meant to power our lives in an ongoing way. I learned that embracing a frantic, rest-less lifestyle long-term is a surefire way to crash and burn. Do it, and you’ll soon have nothing good to give anybody.
A re-ordered heart. My bigger issue, my root problem was a disordered heart. I needed new ways of thinking, better ways of living and interacting—basically some healthier habits. This led me to discover and cultivate a series of non-complicated practices (“spiritual life hacks”) to address the flaws in my heart and get me back on track. I was (and still am) struck at how God can use little things to make such a BIG difference.
Jeannie Clarkson offers practical help for navigating these sorts of struggles in her new book (coming in October) The Emotionally Intelligent Pastor: A Guidebook for Clergy and Other Christian Leaders. My new book, Spiritual Life Hacks (coming in early August), also addresses these deep issues of the heart.
If today you’re where I was in 2013-14, I want you to know there’s no shame is admitting, “I’m exhausted. This isn’t working. Somebody help me!”
In truth, that’s the most emotionally intelligent thing a depleted soul could ever say or do.
Adapted in part from Spiritual Life Hacks by Len Woods (Harvest House Publishers, 2019), now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, christianbook.com, and fine booksellers everywhere. Used by permission.
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