Years of raising support can make you forget to enjoy the company of people around you. Conversations point back to ministry, and you forget what normal conversation looks like. Ted Esler, president of Missio Nexus reminds me to stop making my work an identity.
“Organizations can suck the life out of a soul. The travel, meetings, concern for sustainability, mission fulfillment, and other realities of our jobs take emotional and mental resources. As we wrap our lives around confronting those challenges, we can exchange our personal identity for an organizational one.” He goes on to say how the job shouldn’t define us and warns that conversations personally become limited to work issues. He asks, “When the job is over, what happens to their identity?”
How do I break the hold of a ministry that can become all-encompassing?
- Relationships take precedence over support. In order to maintain an example of authenticity in a marketing world, I must also model this in my life. I look beyond the support someone gives to me and pray and care about them. If someone doesn’t support me, I pray and care about them. A friend once sent an email to say she couldn’t give financial support ahead of a lunch date. I had to assure her that I was meeting her for lunch and not asking for support.
- Get a Hobby. While I combine ministry with rest as a lot of creatives do, using my camera to practice taking shots for story postcards, social media, etc is also therapeutic. A good camera causes you to chase light and detail. You find rest in waiting for the right shot and changing your focus. Sometimes, that is in the middle of a forest and all you hear is the hollow sound of a woodpecker knocking on a tree.
- Spiritual Care. After changing jobs from a church job to a secular job in 2017, I maintained my normal hours of rising early to get into God’s Word or just sit in His presence to wait on Him. I can’t serve others if I am burned out and empty.
- Marriage Care. I am married to a great man. He is my prayer warrior. My life must include him in it and it’s not always easy. Making disciples on social media isn’t Monday through Friday. Boundaries are important. I break off from my work to sit with him. We hike together. He loves my photo journaling. We made a pact to grow together.
- Physical Care. Take a walk, go for a run, and keep your physical healthy. That’s my lifeline to keeping up my energy.
Many different sources say the same thing—working long hours doesn’t improve work output. Respect the shut down to refuel for the next day. You’ll get more done. Work is not my identity, and I am practicing being more thoughtful to others in what I converse about, making sure people know I care about them.