We've all encountered those moments in ministry and life when we feel spent, empty, with nothing else to give. Maybe lived on exhaust one gasp too long. Maybe burning the candle on both ends and in the middle wasn't such a great idea. Maybe a series of sleepless nights got the best of us. Whatever the cause, we have nothing left to give and for just a few more hours - whether it's a Sunday service, a Wednesday night gathering, or the conference that still has a day to wrap up - we must hang on. But to what?
I've encountered this scenario all too often, and despite multiple attempts to schedule more downtime, be more intentional about rest, carve out time with Jesus every day, and live a healthy-paced life, there are still times that things outside of our control push us to the point of exhaustion. How do we walk with grace when we have no grace?
1.Take a deep breath. Sometimes a few deep breaths and a moment of prayer behind a closed door or even a closet door can make a huge difference.
2. Cling to the Scripture. Whether it's the reminder that "I can do all things through Christ who strengths me" or "Fear not for I have redeemed you", the Word of God can empower us when our energy level is at its lowest.
3. Grab caffeine cautiously. I used to opt for the latte whenever I felt exhaustion settling in and all too often upgraded to the grande. The problem is that while the extra boost helped get me through the moment it often lasted longer than I needed it - sometimes interrupting that night's sleep. Now if I reach for a latte, I order the smallest size and try to only drink half.
4. Know and "no" your limits. When I'm tired, sometimes I'll get roped into saying "yes" to things that I would never have committed to any other time. Other times I'll find myself roped into long involved conversations where I'm only half-listening. Slowly, I'm learning to know my limits and be more honest with people. I'll let them know that I'm exhausted and would love to continue the conversation at a later time when I can give the other person the attention they deserve. Other times I'll just ask for time to think about whatever they're asking rather than offering a kneejerk response.
5. Don't be afraid to vote yourself off the island. Sometimes you may feel you really need to be at a gathering or event (and you probably should be!), but your actual presence is more of a detriment than asset. That's why it's important to know when you need to vote yourself off the island and excuse yourself. A loving support staff and community will guard and protect you so you can give and serve out of a full tank rather than an empty one. In excusing yourself, you may end up empowering others to do the same and the depth and impact of all your team does may increase as a result.