By: Jonathan Day, Lead Pastor
As I look back over the past three years as a church planter, the word “perspective” has been hanging out in my mind. When God called me to plant a church five years ago, I had many pre-conceived notions of what it would look like: Inviting Venue, Cutting Edge Worship, Vibrant Small Groups, Hundreds of People in Attendance. Wow, was I in for a wake up call.
Very quickly I found myself immersed into “ministry”. Working with leaders, volunteers, core team members, etc… Though I knew planting a church would require long hours, detailed preparation and intense organization, I never saw or even thought that I would put myself into a position that would lead to burnout. I had mentors and pastors clearly warn me that if I was not careful, burnout would sneak up on me and it would grab me before I knew it.
Two years into our church plant, I was doing exactly what I was warned against and furthermore what I had told myself would never happen. So often, our mindset sets sail with a clear direction and before we know it, the wind blows, the water rises and we become caught up with the “logistics” of our calling rather than the “purpose” of our calling.
A navy psychologist who was attending our church at the time, pulled me aside one Sunday after the service and asked me if I was practicing well care for myself. I had never really given much thought to my spiritual or mental well being since I had planted the church. He began to explain the importance of taking time for myself so I could be on point for the task that God had called me to. Then he made this statement: “A Church will only be as healthy as its leader”. Talk about a wake up call. For the first time on this journey, I took a step back, reflected, repented and decided that there would be a shift in my mindset.
With that shift, the Lord began to speak to me about margins. Typically when we hear the word margin, we think about a page layout in Microsoft Word or Mac Pages. When I draft a letter to someone, the margins in the program that I’m using make sure I stay in the lines. The margins also make sure I don’t put too much content on one page.
When we look at our relationship with God, when we look at the calling that He has placed on our lives, are we implementing margins? Do we place boundaries around ourselves to make sure there is a healthy balance in our lives? I was not and it lead to frustration, weariness and a weak defense system. When that defense system is weak, the enemy identifies the target and attacks. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV).
I have implemented margins into my life. Margins that will allow me to cultivate a stronger relationship with God, my wife, my children, my church & my friends. I would encourage you to take some time and do an assessment on your flow. Once you assess your flow, ask yourself this question. “Is my flow in the margins or out of the margins”?