Being Held To Your Limits

I’m scheduled to run in the Baltimore Running Festival this weekend.  I’m trying to make sure that I don’t get sick or hurt myself, but even if I did the chances of me dropping out are not likely…and that can be a risk.  There’s something about running and knowing your limits, that’s something really hard for me to embrace.  There are people who go out there and run 100 miles so for me not to be able to complete a tenth of that distance with a small cold might seem absurd, but if you don’t know your limits and work within them chances are you’ll burnout.  In fact 6 years ago I ran the Baltimore Marathon (26.2) and passed out on the 24th mile because of dehydration, I had been sick that week, so entering into the race I was depleted of many nutrients.
In student ministry a lot of us walk into our “race days” already pushing the limits and to recognize where we are on the burnout scale we need:

  • Your Ministers should be holding you accountable in your margin.  You need to give them permission to tell you when you are holding the flow of your ministry back.  The success of your ministry depends on how well you set up your ministers; therefore, it’s important that you have people in your ministry team who are going to make sure you are staying to task.  
  • Your Pastor is one of the most important relationships you have in your job.  I’m not sure what the system in your church is like but your pastor needs to be available to you.  Now I recognize that not everyone has a good relationship with their pastor and some feel that their’s might be incompetent. If that’s the case you might need to ask for guidance in how that relationship can improve or whether or not you are in the right place.  Your Pastor should be the one to keep you on the vision, keep you going through the hard periods and help you if you feel over extended.
  • Your Family is probably the most important accountability system in your life.  If you are burnout, overworked, jaded and frustrated your family will probably be the first one to notice.  Most of the time they’ll give you the grace if you take it out on them; however, the goal is to not bring home the pain.  If you are feeling burned out they’ll tell you, you just need to listen.
  • Mentors are so important in ministry.  Right now I’m blessed to have a professional coach and a spiritual director.  I try my best to surround myself with other youth workers who are going to be able to look at things from an objective stand point.  Your family, pastor and ministers are sometimes to heavily in the mix.  These are going to be the people who understand where you are coming from; however, will be able to share their experience, wisdom and guidance in an objective manner.

I’m sure there are more people who can hold us accountable but it’s important to note that these are people who will surround you with their love.  Anyone can be critical of you if you give them permission, accountability is about insight, truth, hope and faith.  People who maintain those characteristics are the people you should surround yourself with.
Who surrounds you in your ministry?