January is known mostly for two things: cold weather and making New Year’s resolutions. They usually give way to warmer weather and well meaning intentions that also fade along with the frost.
The subject at our recent Pastor/Wives Retreat was revitalization. Although most content was geared toward revitalizing churches, we all agreed if church leaders are not willing to explore personal revitalization, how can they ask congregations to engage in extensive overhaul of ideas and practices? In the Canterbury Tales (Chaucer’s, not Jeff’s) the parson says prophetically, “if the gold rusts, what will the iron do?” Here are seven areas where each church leader should appraise his/her life and ask the Holy Spirit to convict, transform, and energize the leader in the area of personal revitalization.
1. Role of Reflection---Socrates and Plato told us “know thyself” & “the unexamined life is not worth living.” In our constantly distracted society countless voices vie for our conscious focus. Endless streams of video images cause us to react, not reflect. Periodically Shut down those popup phone notifications signaling something “attention-worthy” and carve out time for reflection & contemplation (what is important, what is missing, what is pressing, what can wait). The Word of God should be the starting point; journaling is invaluable to show me the folly or wisdom of my current stance when measured against the Word and previous entries.
2. Adversity---you’ve often heard “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” God grants our souls immortality in Christ but does not grant us invincibility and immunity during our earthly life. Disease, loss, & tragedy touch everyone at some point. We need to wrestle with those impossible lessons He requires us (Eccl. 7.14, Prov. 16.4, Job 2.10) to learn.
3. Exercise---1 Tim. 4.8 is no excuse for being out of shape. Our sedentary lifestyle of gazing at a screen and sitting on our blessed assurance all day promotes obesity, sluggishness, and overall fatigue. Movement of any kind, just walking, promotes better cardiac and aerobic health. I don’t enjoy exercise (which I do six of seven days a week), I enjoy the benefits of it.
4. Review of Goals---one needs goals before one can review them. They need to be something measurable (I want to read five books outside of my expertise), and sharable. Goals I show to others make me accountable. I have a friend in TX who calls and asks me what I have “on the burner,” then after the event or campaign he calls and asks how it went. Have someone to whom you have to account for that which you say you desire to accomplish.
5. Recreation—this is akin to exercise and hobby, but deserves its own listing. The outdoors has its own renewing ability when I spend time in the trees, creeks, and mountains WV offers in abundance.
6. Nutrition---I’m not trying to rob you of precious Pringles and pepperoni rolls, but ask yourself: why should my congregation listen to me preach about spiritual disciplines if I can’t control my appetite? Recent changes in our family’s health have forced us to research what we eat. Shirley and Jackie shake their head at some of my lunch concoctions (Huel rocks) but at my age I have to monitor those calories and carbs and rid them by revising the menu or getting on the treadmill.
7. Hobby---if the ministry is stale, and you’re going through the motions, perhaps you need a creative outlet that allows you to check out, create, innovate, etc. Mine (and counting) are guitar, playing recorder, reading, camping, canoeing, and hiking.
I didn’t even mention personal study, joining a social or civic group, forming a regular dinner foursome, or starting a garden: see 1 Cor. 9.27 in either ESV or CSB; revitalization begins with moi!