Feeling restless?

29 03 2011

In the past week I’ve met face to face with nearly a dozen church tech leaders and have had phone calls and emails with many more.  There’s been some great discussion of what kind of things do and don’t work, ministry philosophy and plenty about life in general.  One topic that has come up frequently over the past week though is one that really makes me sad, and since I’ve experienced it myself over the years I’m committed to helping people navigate it.  The topic is leaders who feel like they are ready to walk away from their church or ministry, and with each email, text message, tweet or live conversation my heart aches more for tech leaders.

Before I go further, if you are in a good place with leaders who love and appreciate you, I rejoice with you and for you.  You are truly blessed!  If you’re in that environment and you still feel like God is calling you to a new thing, I truly believe that God has something even better for you.  For most of the people I’ve been talking to though, it has been less about simply feeling God’s call to move and more about wrestling with whether or not they can hang on to where they are now.  They  (or their family) may feel tired, used, abused, uncared for or burned out. Some are even ready to walk away from ministry altogether.  For those of you experiencing this, or are on your way to experiencing this, here are some thoughts and encouragement I’d like to share.

1) You are not alone
I don’t know the current statistic but the average church leader last somewhere around 18 months in their position.  This is all pastors and leaders.  Working in a church is a tough calling, but we have to remember that we’re not alone in this and there are many who are willing to support and share life with you.  The Church Technical Director Roundtable alone has over 350 technical leaders who know what you go through, and many of them have or are currently experiencing this.  My encouragement is to talk especially to those who have gone through this season to help gain perspective, insight and possibly some ideas on where to go.  This season is one that can feel very lonely and confusing, it helps greatly to have experienced folks speak into your life, especially during a season like this.  Sometimes a little outside perspective is all that is needed to help you navigate a tough situation.  If you don’t know or have someone in your life, please feel free to contact me.

2) Look at and work on what you can change, you.
What I’ve learned about challenging seasons of my life is generally they are times that required me to look inward to change and grow.  Let’s face it, while you can and should address struggles with those you have struggles with, if a leader or coworker is the source of your frustration, you have a limited ability to change them.  What I’ve learned though (the hard way of course) is that frequently a change needed to be made in me too.  When I’ve felt burned out, often it was because I wasn’t spending enough time reading my Bible, or being quiet, or even simply not working.  When relationships have strained, often I could have been much more proactive about building mutual respect and connection.  I’m not saying it’s always your or my fault, but when things get tough we must be willing to look at ourselves first.  Sometimes we simply need to take better care of ourselves, have healthier boundaries or simply attitude check ourselves.  Whether or not the problem started with me, it’s the first place I should start since it is the area I have the most control over.

3) Focus on being who God made you to be
During these times it’s much easier to leave than stick it out, to jump ship rather than try to turn it.  I think often we give up too soon, giving up before God has a chance to mold us into what he wants us to be.  I’ve had times in my life where I feel like God has specifically told me that if I will hang on and push through, He will open even bigger doors than if I give up.  On the other hand, sometimes God is calling you to a new thing, and if so you absolutely need to be obedient to that.  Last year that is exactly where I was, feeling a shifting in what God had called me to do.  The issue wasn’t with the ministry I was a part of, but the changes God was bringing to my passion and vision for ministry.  My point here is that if you are going to leave a church or even a ministry position, do so because God is directing you to, not just because it is easier.  During this season, my encouragement is to really seek and pray about what God made you to be.  For me, through much prayer and discussion with my wife and trusted friends and ministry veterans, it was clear that God was shifting my vision and calling.  Even though I love leading technical ministries and could continue what I was doing, God was adjusting my passions and gifting to this new direction and I had to be obedient to that shift or struggle through staying behind.  If you are experiencing this season, is God shifting your calling, wanting to shift your location, or asking you to stick it out and learn what He wants to teach you?

Every person’s story has different characters and twists and turns, but if you are in this season of restlessness, hopefully these insights will help you start navigating what God has for you.  If you’re in this season, I’d love to pray with you and talk with you.  Please contact me at duke.deJong@yahoo.com or on Twitter @dukedejong.

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2 responses

29 03 2011
Denny Weinman

good words. thanks duke!

29 03 2011
Brent

Thanks for the reminder Duke, I needed it.

I know that for me personally, I get burned out and overwhelmed when I try to do things in my own strength rather then relying on God to guide and direct me. It’s usually the result of me not spending the time with God that I need to.

Thanks for the encouragement!

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