Our family’s support raising journey chaos adventure fell around the birth of our first child. By the time he was 13 months old, we’d hauled him to 13 states. We’d lift him into his carseat again, and he’d start wailing. Poor kid.
I know that for a lot of us, the path is long and uphill.
I remember praying for that $1000/month donor (the one who I realize now, if they fell off our team, could tank our support? That one) so we could just be done, please, oh please, no longer living in a family member’s unfinished basement, sleeping on a futon.
But I’ve written before that God so often uses the path toward overseas as prep for overseas itself.
pacing is everything
It’s like my friend, who’s preparing to run the Pikes Peak Ascent–a half-marathon that summits Pikes Peak. (I know. I, too, am surprised someone like that would be friends with the likes of me.)
She will climb over 7,815 feet to the 14,115 foot summit. (FYI–not a ton of oxygen up there. Trees don’t grow starting around 11,500 feet.)
She’s practicing, she tells me, on a portion of the Peak that takes her up to 13,000 feet. (Doesn’t that sound like a fun way to spend your free time?)
She’s learning how to pace herself–not only on the runs themselves, but with electrolytes and all that–whatever runners do that the rest of us mere mortals don’t know about.
This week she told me she figured out what supplements to take when in order to avoid the “bonk” (that’s a thing) after her runs when her body gives out.
I tell you this because heading overseas is a marathon, not a sprint.
And being overseas? Def-in-ite-ly a marathon.
So learning to pace yourself, nourish yourself, and embrace your limitations?
That starts here.
Duh: Marathoners Need Rest
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in The Power of Full Engagement, observe,
Following a period of activity, the body must replenish fundamental biochemical sources of energy. This is called “compensation” and when it occurs, energy expended is recovered.
Increase the intensity of the training or performance demand, and it is necessary to increase the amount of energy renewal…
To the degree that leaders…build cultures around continuous work…performance is necessarily compromised over time.
…Sadly, the need for recovery is often viewed as evidence of weakness rather than an integral aspect of sustained perfomance…To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn how to rhythmically spend energy.
What would it look like to “rhythmically spend energy”…rather than constantly sprinting?
Could Limitations = Gifts?
In Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, Ruth Haley Barton writes of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-12), “a gift that was given to him to limit his own grandiosity and keep him in touch with his humanness.”
Further, in 2 Corinthians 10:12-17, Paul mentions limits three times.
Until that very moment I had never realized that Paul…seemed to be very clear about the limits and boundaries of his calling. He knew the field God had given him to work, and he knew better than to go outside it. He knew there was a sphere of action and influence that had been given to him by God, and he would not go beyond it unless God enlarged his field.
(Anyone else tempted to think that if they just work harder, God will enlarge their field?)
Limitations = Character
Paul seemed to grapple honestly with the reality of limitations in several different ways in his writings, and in fact, this seemed to be part of his maturing as a leader who was both gifted and called.
In this, I hear the Holy Spirit’s words of Romans 12:3:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
What if embracing your limits is a part of humility…and surrender?
Listening to the limitations of who you are helps you to accomplish this journey not out of a white-knuckled grip, but from experiencing God’s green pastures and still waters when you come to them.
YOUR LACK OF REST: The Ugly Side
Let’s get practical.
If I don’t rest during my journey overseas,
- I may not love well the people in front of me. (See this post on 5+ Ways to Pray for Your Support-Raising.)
- I may focus on appearing spiritually healthy while inside, I’m dying on the vine.
- Like a bride worn out by wedding prep, I may sacrifice my joy in this process.
- I may create patterns of running constantly that defy wise rhythms God has set–like the Sabbaths he created to remind his people they were no longer slaves. (See In praise of Sabbath: On letting go, and Never Forget: You are More than What You Do for God.)
- I may make knee-jerk decisions or reactions rather than well-considered choices.
- My spouse and children may endure the depleted (i.e. more sinful) version of me. That may mean me snapping at them, driving them, and generally functioning out of the stressed version of myself.
- I may not internalize God’s messages that
- His work isn’t dependent on my performance.
- He has made me with limitations, and I need to embrace them in humility.
- The One who calls me is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
- I may not offer this to God out of sheer joy.
- I may not internalize God’s messages that
Friends, listen to the bodies God’s given you. The souls he’s laid inside of you. The whisper of his Spirit.
They may just be gifts to keep you beneath his care.
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, by Ruth Haley Barton (IVP, 2008).
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