In the pre-dawn hours of the morning, I very lethargically roll out of bed -- habitually put on some old worn shorts and a tee-shirt, and make my way to the church gym. There, I begin my routine of making sixty laps at a jogging pace. Somewhere between the sixth and tenth minute, my body temperature rises one degree -- shunting the blood to the working muscles. I experience a light, warm sweat and come to know what runners wistfully refer to as “getting their second wind.” “It comes as a rejuvenating gift, a pleasant surprise in the midst of a tough run.”
This second wind, a renewed burst of energy, can also find its place in ministry. It is a invigorating gift coming at the point when our stamina is depleted and we want to drop out of the race. Yet, it is no surprise. It comes when we plan for it. So, what steps do we take in securing a “second wind’?
1. Know When It Is Needed
We may be prone to skip this step -- assuming all of us know when physical and spiritual vitality is gone. The truth is we often misdiagnose our need or refuse to acknowledge its drain on our lives. We incorrectly identify it through wrong thinking or spurn omitting its depletion because of spiritual pride. We can know when it’s needed when:
* Ministry has become a dreaded chore instead of a joyful challenge.
If we rise each morning wanting to get away from it all instead of anticipating the days ministry opportunities, it’s time to kick-in a second wind? What people dread, they tend to avoid. That’s why we are a step away from dropping out serving our Lord without a fresh breath of energy -- the revitalizing agent of a second wind.
In an area association meeting, “several seasoned pastors in the group (in reply to an enthusiastic young minister) responded with discouraging grousing about the monotonies of modern ministry. Their excitement had died; their focus had shifted to dreadful chores they detested. They whined about their lackluster meetings, humdrum paper shuffling, fussy parishioners and self-inflicted coercion to succeed in a worldly way.” Collectively, they spoke of perceived realities before the second wind -- not recognizing their need.
* Sleep Has Become Fretful Interrupted Moments Instead Of Restful Periods Of Contentment
If your pattern of sleep consistently includes wakeful times of thinking about undone tasks at the office or frantic debates with yourself on how you are going to solve a problem left unattended, it’s time to get away, reprioritize what you do, and allow the cool breeze of a second wind to embrace your path. Fatigue is always a sign something is amiss. We can get tired doing
ministry but should never allow it to lead to exhaustion. Poor sleeping patterns will inevitably result in such weariness.
Dave could not sleep. And this was not the first time. Lately, it seemed sleep was in short supply. He just couldn’t get a peaceful nights rest. All he could think about was that budget proposals were due the first of next week and he had not started on his. With three out of town surgeries, a youth camp, and doctor’s appointments for his kids, last week was gone without out a hint of time to do budgeting. To make matters worse, revival was in two weeks. When was he going to find time to secure homes for cottage prayer meetings? Dave was exhausted. It was all becoming too much. If something didn’t give, he didn’t know what he was going to do.
Fretful sleep instead of contented rest was Dave’s lot. He was a prime candidate for a second wind.
* God’s call has become a life sentence instead a bold adventure.
“Many people think of a call as a judgment God uses to make a pastor miserable, to doom him to poverty and to strangle the fun out of his marriage, parenting, and work.” In effect, they see our ministry as a life sentence of anguish. If our thinking follows this faulty reasoning, we are in desperate need of a second wind to blow through our soul.
Bro. Jesse was barely making ends meet. The salary he was making at his church was less than adequate. Added to his wife’s medical bills was the constant automobile repairs. His long commute to his church field made having adequate transportation a must. He considered a part-time job but his church would not allow it. The financial strain, added to the other pressures of ministry, were taking a toll on his wife and kids. Bro. Jesse began to inwardly wonder why God seemed to have sentenced him to a lifetime of struggles. Such thinking can lead to a spirit of despair. Unless a coming second wind rekindles Bro. Jesse’s call to that of a bold adventure, he is doomed to quitting the ministry -- pursuing a vocation for financial gain instead of God’s promised rewards.
Once we know when we need a new burst of energy to revitalize our ministries, we can then participate in opportunities for a reawakening to take place.
2. Know What To Do
Second winds can come in many forms. Some are more helpful than others. Choosing the right one is a matter of matching the right form to our degree of need. Here are several to get us started:
* The Second Wind Of Career Assessment
If we are questioning our calling, having serious difficulties at our church, or have recently been terminated, this second wind promises immediate dividends. It involves spending several days one on one with a Christian counselor. Career assessment is a serious pause in a minister’s life to focus identity, clarify skills, evaluate skills, and prepare for needed growth -- all in the context of Christian stewardship of life. By contacting our state minister relations office, we can find out a counselor near us who does career assessments.
Several of the seasoned pastors mentioned earlier woke up to their need. Career assessment proved to be the right move for them. Their humdrum and ministry weary lives took on a new outlook when they returned. Their churches and families noticed a remarkable difference in their perspective, attentiveness, and spirit.
I too, recently completed such an assessment. I came home with a renewed since of calling and a confidence that has stayed with me till this day.
* The Second Wind Of Values Clarification
We normally run into problems with having too much to do and not enough time to do it when what we are doing is out of sync with what we value. This second wind, though a subtle change initially, has long range results. It entails sitting down and writing out what we value. I have found a good system for doing this in the Franklin Day Planner. Once the values are identified, then we function based on what we value. This will mean we will say no to activities, projects, and request outside our value parameters.
Dave’s sleep deprivation ended when he replaced the good things in his schedule to what was truly important. Budgets and administration details he delegated to his capable staff. Now, days begin and end with a restful and relaxed body, mind, and soul.
* The Second Wind Of Financial Planning
Nothing drains our energy or causes more consumption of our thinking time than when finances are low and we are struggling making ends meet. More often than not, with a little financial planning, we can get our finances under control and end this energy robing burden. An excellent resource is Ron Blue’s book and workbook, Master Your Money.
Bro. Jesse found that his family could do a better job managing their money. The church agreed to move his family in closer to the church field. The older model car was traded in on a more reliable small car and the hospital agreed to work with Bro. Jesse on his wife’s medical bills. They have fewer luxuries than before but now have a better outlook on their future ministry. It was a very timely second wind.
Second winds come in all shapes and sizes. Less drastic ones may include a recommitment to a quiet time, a weekend off for reflection, time allotted for reading some inspirational books, a key conference to address our weaknesses, or an often neglected vacation. Whether a major second wind like the career assessments, value clarification, or financial planning is needed or less extreme ones, only we can decide. But decide we must. Our families and ministries will be forever impacted by our decision.