Are You Denying Your Denial Problem? How to stay healthy in ministry

I have to be careful with my foot, I just recovered from plantar fasciitis. I was in denial about the pain, I tried to run through it, I even ran in the Baltimore Running Festival with the pain, I just didn’t want to stop, but it won out in the end.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve denied pain, in my first marathon I passed out on the 24th mile because I ignored the signs of dehydration…you would of thought that I learned…nope…the next year I ran the whole marathon with a pulled groin.  I was just in pure denial, because to me the worst thing would be not finishing.
What’s funny is as a youth minister I know there have been times where I’ve ignored the risks for the same reason…I didn’t want to stop.   Unfortunately, I’m not alone because a lot of us will risk running ministry injured, and even worse we can be in denial about what’s holding us back from doing healthy ministry.  So what causes that denial?

  • Fear of Failure: If I made a mistake or was wrong I denied it or tried to downplay the whole thing.  I didn’t want to seem like a failure, because who wants to trust a failure with their kids?
  • Pride: I don’t know about you, but I came into ministry like I had something to prove.  I thought adapting and sharing resources was second tier to creating my own from scratch.  I thought I could do it all on my own, that ministers were helpers and not companions.
  • Believing The Lies: The more you work the more successful you are, asking for help meant weakness, successful ministry is new ministry and so on.  The lies we hear, the ones we tell ourselves or hear from Satan can distract us from focusing on the truth.
  • Sin: If I wasn’t feeding myself spiritually I was allowing Satan to attack me in a vulnerable state.  When we just work in ministry and not grow in our relationship with Christ, we put on blinders.  We are no longer protected with the gifts and tools God gives us. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

How do we avoid denial?

  • Accountability – Through peers, family, small group and even professionally (i.e. Spiritual Director)
  • Prayer – Work on spending time with God, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day…don’t confuse it with prepping for a message or curriculum.
  • Educating Yourself – Read the stories of other youth ministers (i.e. Your First Two Years In Youth Ministry by Doug Fields) who have done the journey, faced burnout and suffered the obstacles that stand in our way.

What’s important is that we be real with ourselves, allow others to be real with us and allow God to expose what’s really inside.  Please Comment Below.