Striking Rocks, pt.3: Handling Fatigue

“Never make a big decision when you are sad, tired or angry.”

Moses was tired. Moses had been leading this congregation for at least 40 years. For the past 38 years, they had been wandering around the desert. Can you imagine how tired Moses must have been on every level?

Physically. I know that people lived longer then (Moses is about 120 at this point), but that doesn’t mean that they were not subject to the realities of aging.

Emotionally. Moses had led the people to the doorstep of the Promised Land, only to have them rebel against entry and be sentenced to wilderness wandering only a few miles away from their desired destination. Can imagine how frustrating that must have been for Moses? On top of that, he had been listening to the same complaints and lack of spiritual maturity for four decades.

Spiritually. Moses had experienced the presence and power of God in some incredible ways during this period of his life and leadership. That does not mean, however, that he never experienced doubt, discouragement or even depression. I would imagine that in the quietness of his tent, away from the pressing demands of the people, he had moments where he questioned the plans of God, his own calling, and his capacity to lead.

For about twenty minutes, because I could not get them to settle down, I had unsuccessfully attempted to teach a lesson to a group of Jr. High aged boys. A wave of sadness and discouragement washed over me like a tsunami. I stood before them for 15 minutes unable to speak before I finally dismissed and sent them home.

I sat in my dark office and contemplated 30 years of ministry with all of its frustrations, trials and tribulations; with all of its battles, victories and defeats. I realized just how tired I was of pushing and pulling people who didn’t really want to leave “Egypt.” The thought of this overwhelmed me, plunging me into a slough of despondency. The coming weeks only added to the darkness of my spirit as I experienced…
… being cursed at by students at a high school presentation,
… visiting a hospitalized congregant who proceeded to rattle off a list of complaints and criticisms about me and the church and
… another member complain that he could not concentrate on the sermon because he did not like my tie!

I am sure that you have your own encyclopedic index of frustrations that have deflated your enthusiasm and zapped your motivation over the years. While in the depths of our hearts we know  the positive impact our ministries have had and are having on people, we still can be derailed rather easily by a single, well-placed negative comment. Why is that?

I recently read about a report from neuroscientists claiming that there are more neural networks in the brain associated with negative emotions than with positive emotions. They speculate that the ratio may be as high as 5 to 1. I believe that neuroscience is only “discovering” the truth of God’s word. Colossians 3:5-17 tells us that we are naturally clothed in a negative, death-producing sinful wardrobe and we must intentionally and consciously redress ourselves in the positive, transformational clothing of Christ-likeness.

Are you emotionally, physically or spiritually drained?
Can you see ways in which your fatigue is negatively impacting your attitude in and about ministry?
What are you doing to replenish your heart and strength?

Jason P.

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