We have now entered a New Year and a New Decade. Are you ready?
This past year, QuietWaters experienced many exciting changes. On February 1, 2010 we opened our new QuietWaters
Retreat Center and saw a significant rise in the number of pastors and missionaries we served.
We have exciting plans for 2011, that Lord willing we will be able to implement. However, I’m not sure we are ready for the changes the New Year has in store.
Are you ready for the changes that you will experience in the New Year and the New Decade?
Are you ready for what some are predicting?
Michael Spencer in a March 2009 article in the Christian Science Monitor stated that, “We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated.”
With 1,500 pastors leaving the ministry each month and at least 5,000 missionaries leaving the field every year, are those very frightening predictions coming true?
Spencer goes on to say, “This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.”
Is Spencer’s prediction over-the-top, or is he on-the-mark?
As we read the newspapers and listen to the news commentaries on radio and television we are already hearing the hostility toward evangelical Christianity.
Whether or not his 10-year prediction of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity will come true or not, we can see the indicators to which he is responding.
My observation is that the world is becoming more hostile toward Christianity, and as it does, the pastor and missionary are most often the focus of that hostility. I see it play out as we address stress-induced burnout in the Christian leaders we serve. Burnout can be defined as the state of physical, spiritual, psychological,
emotional exhaustion that is related to chronic unrelieved pressure or stress.
Are you ready for chronic unrelieved pressure and stress? It may be coming your way if Spencer’s predictions come true.
So how do you get ready for what lies ahead in 2011?
Dave Ragsdale, QuietWaters Director of Counseling, gives four important statements that should be true if you are going to be ready.
- Your spiritual, psychological, physical, and social health are the most important resources you bring to ministry. YOU are the tool!
- You must practice self-care in order to be a good steward of yourself.
- You need a theology of self-care in order to be assertive about this value.
- An ongoing tension exists between care of self and the care of others.
Let’s start with a theology of self-care. It is best explained by seeing it demonstrated by Jesus. “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.” Luke 4:42a (NIV) “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 (NIV) I’ve shared before the comment by a pastor that he wanted to look out his office window and just be with God, but he was afraid that someone would come in and think he was goofing off.
Then let’s look at Ragsdale’s five key elements of implementing self-care to be ready to face 2011:
1. You are feeding your soul
2. Giving yourself time for reflection
3. Taking time for rest and relaxation
4. Getting plenty of recreation
5. Enjoying art and beauty
I’ve mentioned these few suggestions to hopefully get you started in the right direction to get ready through self-care. It is not a magic formula. Everything about ministry is against you implementing good self-care.
Every year I make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get more exercise. I seldom make much progress toward those resolutions.
So, do not make implementing self-care your New Year’s resolution or you will fail. Instead, make it part of your prayer life. It is only with the Lord’s help that you can be ready for the New Year.