As I’m writing this, I just completed my third week of camps and trips for the summer. One mission trip, a high school camp, and a middle school camp later, and I feel like I’m running on low fumes. Who’s ready to get out and push?
Don’t get me wrong — I love my students and find value and importance in the work I do. But even the strongest, most extroverted types would most likely begin to fade after a summer of travel and working with youth.
The more I work with people, I begin to see more of the differences in how others interact and re-energize. Full-time ministry led me to realize I’m more introverted than extroverted (introvert with extroverted tendencies is my new label). I love people, but tend to find the most rest and re-energize by myself. Towards the end of a full week around people, traveling, activities, and mental and emotional exertion, I usually begin to crave solitude.
I understand that not all of us have an abundance of time on our hands for relaxation. But I don’t believe relaxation is the issue for many of us — but rest. Physical rest, mental rest, emotional rest, and genuine care for our souls.
One of my favorite reads recently was Wayne Cordeiro’s, “Leading on Empty.” In the book, Cordeiro speaks early and often not just about the concept of self-care, but the necessity of it. In his personal account of burnout, Cordeiro reveals thoughts and findings from his own journey to regain not just his physical and mental strength, but to revive his soul. His book did wonders in my own quest to find rest, but mostly helped me understand the difference between consistent self care and just taking a week off every year.
The difference? Consider the regular maintenance that goes into your car. Oil changes, tire rotations, and filling up your gas tank are all regular (and wise) practices of owning a vehicle. Wait too long, and you may find yourself calling AAA on the side of the road. Or, what about your teeth? Hopefully you’ve made a personal choice (for the rest of our sake) to brush and floss daily instead of waiting for your next dental appointment to clean them.
Much like our cars or hygiene, regular (and consistent) maintenance and care for your mind, body, and soul is a must if we want to be live healthfully and within our boundaries. We all have different limits, but that doesn’t require us to always push those limits or cross those lines in order to gain permission to refill our tank. In other words: YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO FIND REST REGULARLY. A good dose of self-awareness combined with a plan to recharge regularly will lead to preventative maintenance rather than expensive repairs (burnout, depression, isolation, etc).
Cordeiro suggests that we identify our “fills” and “drains,” the things that either energize us or deplete our tanks. We all have activities, hobbies, jobs, responsibilities, and relationships that do one or the other. For me, my “fills” are usually casual time with friends, praying, reading, golf, and TV or movies. But for you, working with your hands or cleaning the house may be what refills your tank.
What “fills” your tank? What tends to “drain” you? My advice to you this week: identify your “fills” and “drains.” Then, make time in your daily schedule to find rest, and refill.
Thank you, Lord, for vacation time.
• Colin Noonan serves as the director of youth ministries at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Keep the conversation going with him at email@example.com, or on Twitter (@cnoonan3).