Dec 22, 2011

What's Sucking the Life Out of You? (Pt. 2)

The leech has two suckers that cry out, "More, more!"  There are three things that are never satisfied--no, four that never say, "Enough!"
Proverbs 30:15

Yesterday we talked about this verse.  In Bible times, horseleeches were a common problem.  It was a parasite that lived in water.  Horses would pick them up when drinking from pools of contaminated water.  The horseleeches would lodge in the horse's throat, nose, or nostrils and begin draining it's very life blood.

A leech is something that seeks to suck the spiritual life out of you.  It's goal is to rob you of your ability to effectively serve the Lord.  It is patient.  It drains you a little at a time until one day you wake up and like Samson in Judges 16:20, "When he woke up, he thought, "I will do as before and shake myself free." But he didn't realize the LORD had left him."  His power to serve was gone and it happened so subtlety he never knew it took place until it was too late.

We talked about 6 leeches that have their sights set on a slow kill.  Today let's look at how to prevent the drain. The tips are listed in blue.

People.  Our ministry is people.  But be careful about people who attach themselves to you and begin to constantly drain you.  It may be someone who is always negative.  It may be someone who repeatedly calls you on your day off and demands the time you have set aside for your family.  It may be someone who instead of following the Biblical counsel you give them would rather just lean on you as an emotional crutch.

1. Surround yourself with positive people.
2. Set boundaries and let people know your day off is reserved for your family.
3. When you are with your family, don't feel like you have to answer your pbone. Better yet, turn off 
    your cell phone.
4. If someone continues to ignore the counsel you give them, draw a line in the sand and let them 
    know you can no longer counsel them until they get serious about wanting help.
5. Remember you are responsible TO people but not FOR people.

Problems.  In ministry, there are always problems that arise.  You can probably think of 3-4 right now that you are dealing with.  And dealing with them can suck the very life out of you.

1. Realize problems are part of forward movement.  The only way to not have any is to do nothing 
    and be nothing.  
2. Deal directly and quickly with problems instead of avoiding them.  Ignoring them won't make them 
    go away.
3. Don't try to solve them alone.  Always get advice from someone you respect and trust.
4. If you have problems weighing heavily on you at bedtime, write them down on a piece of paper with 
    some possible solutions before you try to go to sleep.  It will make it easier to fall sleep.
5. See problems as opportunities to grow.  Face them with purpose instead of self-pity.

Pressure.  The pressure can be a constant life drainer.  Paul reminds us of this in 2 Corinthians 11.  I chuckle when I read it.  He starts off by talking about all he has endured including beating, shipwreck, hunger, prison, and more.  At the end of the list he says, "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."

It's like he is saying the toughest part of ministry is the pressure.  We all feel it.  It can come from our leaders but normally it comes from within.  We are driven.  We want to reach the world.  We constantly are striving to get more done and make a bigger impact for Christ. 

1. Realize you can't save the world...you just work for the Person who can.
2. Have hobbies, sports, and other outlets that take your mind off ministry.
3. Act don't react when the pressure rises.
4. Learn to prioritize and organize your time.
5. Remember sometimes 85% is good enough.  The pressure to make it 100% may not be worth it.

Pace.  Ministry can take over your entire life.  It can consume you.  It can easily grab all 7 days of your week.  There is always someone else who needs you...another lesson that needs to be written...a phone call to make...an email to respond to...a family to follow up with...a hurting person to pray with.  You keep telling yourself it will slow down.  But it never does.

1. Find a pace that you can sustain for the long haul.
2. Take your day off...every week.
3. Use your vacation time...all of it.
4. Realize there are times when you have to operate in the red rpm zone.  But make it for short 
    periods and get out.
5. When you are home...be home.  Leave work at the office.

Pain.  Prolonged physical pain can drain you.  Whether it's a bad back, ongoing illness, medical condition, or complications from a surgery...it can suck the joy and vitality out of your life.  I had a friend who had back issues.  It got so bad that he had to quit work.  The bills begin to pile up.  It sucked the life out of him to the point that he committed suicide.
 
1. Have a doctor that you know and trust.
2. Take your time when recovering.  Trying to jump back in too fast can cause you to lose more time in 
     the long run.
3. Don't be too "tough" or proud to ask for help.
4. Have someone you can talk with.  Someone who will really listen.
5. Lean on God's grace.  

Personal sin.  Sin will suck the joy, anointing, and power out of our ministry.  That hidden sin is doing far more damage to your spiritual life than you may know.  The horseleech couldn't be seen on the surface.  It attached itself inside the horse...out-of-sight.  Unforgiveness, lust, pride, anger, bitterness, jealousy and other hidden, personal sins will eventually take you down if not dealt with and forsaken.

1. Yield yourself each morning to the Holy Spirit's control and guidance.
2. Have close friends that hold you accountable and ask you the tough questions.
3. Set protective boundaries around yourself. An example would be not riding alone with a member of 
    the opposite sex other than your spouse.
4. Focus on your relationship with God more than you do on your work for God.
5. Spend time daily in God's Word. Jesus defeated the devil's temptations by quoting Scripture.

For years, I allowed some of these leeches to suck the life out of me to the point where I almost lost my ministry.  This post tells my story and what I learned through it.

Posted by Dale Hudson

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