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Learn to Pace Yourself in Life and Work

By Rick Warren


You don’t have to be a prophet to know that technology has ­­made the world smaller, more complex, and faster. You live a much faster lifestyle than your parents did. Your children will live an even faster lifestyle than you do.

As you and I know, pastors aren’t immune to time pressures. With meetings, ever-shrinking sermon preparation, and a crowded pastoral care schedule, our office calendar can stay full if we’re not careful. Then we get home and rush our kids to after-school events, grab a quick dinner, run to the hospital, go home, jump in bed, and hope there are no late-night phone calls.

We can identify with what a USA Today article said about life for many people“Today people are souped up, stressed out, and over scheduled. In this brave new world boundaries between work and family are disappearing. Everybody is mobile and every moment is scheduled.”

The Bible tells us that hurry and worry and scurry have dramatic negative effects on our life and ministries. If you’re serious about slowing your life down to a more humane pace of life, you’re going to have to make five countercultural changes in your lifestyle.

1. Learn contentment.

It starts in the heart. Paul says this about contentment in Philippians 4:12: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (NIV). Whether we’re pastors or not, it’s not in our nature to be content. We want life to be different – better. But we can’t slow down our lives unless we start being content with what we have.

Contentment doesn’t mean you don’t want your church to grow. Contentment doesn’t mean you don’t go after your God-given vision for your church. It just means a bigger church won’t make you any happier. Your relationship with Christ is where you find your true joy. Until you come to that conclusion, you won’t slow down.

2. Obey the fourth commandment.

Most of us would bristle if we were told that we were consistently breaking the Ten Commandments. But, pastor, many of us are. Remember the fourth commandment? We’re to take one day off every week. Are you doing that? For most of us, that’s not Sunday. We’re preaching, meeting with people, and overseeing the worship services – we’re not resting. It doesn’t matter which day it is, but we need a day off.

There have been times when I thought I was too busy to take time off. It never worked. I became more irritated with my family. I became more tired. And I didn’t get as much done. It was so prideful of me to think that what I was doing at that moment was more important than listening to what God said about how he made me.

I live a very fast life. But every Monday I slow down. I’m not available on Monday. I know a pastor who had a member get mad at him because he tried to call him several times on Monday and couldn’t get a hold of him. The pastor said, “Sorry, but that’s my day off.” The member said, “The devil doesn’t take a day off.” And the pastor said, “You’re right. And if I didn’t, I’d be just like the devil.”

3. Pause and pray before deciding.

Stop and pray about the decisions you make on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean you wait a year before deciding something. I’m talking about 10 to 15 seconds. As you sit in an elders meeting or a counseling session, ask, “God, what do you want me to do in this instance?”

How does this help you slow down? You’re pausing to get perspective. Perspective is what helps you make wise decisions. Most of us just want to make decisions faster, but it’s perspective that really makes better decisions.

4. Learn to say no.

You can’t keep adding things to your schedule without eliminating some. Every time you add a new activity to your schedule, you need to take something off. Whenever I used to see one of my mentors, Peter Drucker, he would say, “Don’t tell me what new thing you’re doing. Tell me what you’ve stopped doing.” The mark of leadership is knowing what not to do.

Most of us have a hard time saying no to opportunities. So ask yourself two questions every time you’re given a new opportunity.

    • Is it worth it? With every opportunity you’re given, you need to ask yourself whether it’s worth your energy, effort, reputation, and ultimately, your time. Your time is your life. And you need to decide whether the new opportunity is worth a portion of your life.
    • What am I going to give up? You can’t just keep adding, adding, and adding. You have to give something up to take hold of an opportunity. What will it be?

5. Trust God’s timing.

Impatience is often why we hurry. It’s simply a lack of trust. When you’re impatient you’re saying, “God, I don’t really trust you. I don’t think you have my best interest at heart. You don’t know when I need it, and I’m in a hurry.” Is fast always better? No. It is not. Not always.

God has a plan for your life. You know that. But he also has a timetable for your life – and a timetable for your church, for that matter. Unfortunately, God never explains his timetable. And that can be frustrating! At Saddleback we waited for years to get our own land and our own building. I couldn’t understand God’s timing. But God knew exactly what he was doing. Our church campus is visible from one of the busiest freeways in our community. It was a freeway that didn’t exist when we first started looking for land. That’s God’s timing.

It’s painful when you’re in a hurry and God’s not. But it’s part of maturing, part of growing up. Children have to learn the difference between “no” and “not yet.” God knows the right time and the right way. He has a plan and a timetable.

Ministry is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. God doesn’t want you to burn out. Whether you’re 30 or 70, he doesn’t want to wear you out before he can complete his purposes through you. Learning to slow down might be the most important ministry skill you learn this year.

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Unconditional Love 

In the Sixth Chapter of the Bible Book of Job, Mr. Job has just listened to his friend, Mr. Eliphaz, rebuke him for what appears to be sin, wrong-doing or foolishness. However, Job responds by saying, “My friend, right now I don’t need your rebuke or correction. Don’t try to reason with me with your mind. Right now I need you to show compassion and try to understand me.” 

Read Job 6:8-15 yourself. 

“Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant me one thing I long for. That it would please God to crush me. That He would loose His hand and cut me off. To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend. Even though he forsakes the fear of The Almighty.”

Job was in such a depressed state of emotions he wanted to die. He didn’t need someone to try to connect with him “mind-to-mind” but “emotion-to-emotion.” 

When someone is under the influence of a strong emotion such as anger, grief or fear we cannot connect with them by reason. We must seek to understand and listen first. 

This is not to say there is not a place for reasoning, correction and instruction… there is. But Reason never wins over emotion. Emotion is soothed and redirected by emotion. 

So when it comes to trying to connect with people, remember – there is a time to connect by reason, correction and instruction and there is a time to connect by emotion. 

Let’s show unconditional love, even to those who are in the wrong… just as This Lord dies to us. 

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Be a People – Builder

You can be a homebuilder, bodybuilder, reputation builder, or a retirement-nest-egg builder. None of those things will last, but there is something that’s going to last for eternity, something you can put your efforts into now that will last forever.

You can be a people builder.

The Bible encourages us to do just that in Romans 15:2, where it says, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (NIV).

How do you build your people? The key is kindness – giving people what they need, not what they deserve . . .

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Family, Leadership, Personal Development, Uncategorized

The Value of Listening to Understand

Listening 1God gave us two ears and one mouth…that should be a clue to us.  Many people use their mouth more than their ears.  They don’t listen to others to understand, but only to reply.  These people miss out on opportunities to learn, grow and affirm others in their life.

In the book of Job, after Job’s calamities, his three friends came to visit and sat with him for 7 days without saying a word.  They just let Job speak and share.  Sometimes it is a time just to listen, not correct, not give our ideas or not even respond…just let the other person share.

John Maxwell says, “People don’t loose intimacy when they stop talking, but when they stop listening.  Leaders (people) seldom realize how much their listening empowers the other person.  Because they are leaders the sheer act of listening speaks volumes that even a great speech can’t communicate.”

Again, John Maxwell suggests:

  1.   Listening communicates the value of the other person and his or her thoughts.
  2.   Listening communicates love and understanding and care for their needs.
  3.   Listening communicates a desire to grow, learn and remain teachable.

Why not practice just listening to someone for a change and reflecting back to them what you hear them saying, and affirming them rather than sharing your ideas or solving the problem?  It might do a lot to make your relationship with them even stronger.  Listening creates a relationship where your input is valued.  Another time will arise for you to share your thoughts on their issue.

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God made you unique! 

God formed every creature on this planet with a special area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each has a particular role to play based on the way it was shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, or shaped, to do certain things.

Before architects design any new building, they first ask, “What will be its purpose? How will it be used?” The intended function always determines the form of the building. Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry . . . 

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Personal Development, Uncategorized

Lessons from the Book of Job

Tree with Big RootsThe 42 chapters of the Book of Job describe one man’s loss of almost everything he had, including his ten children.  Job was a good man toward his community and family.  He was a man who loved Yaweh-God and followed Him.  His love for God was the foundation of his faith and righteousness.

Job lost almost everything in life through no fault of his own.  His wife and friends misunderstood him and his faith was tried.

Here are a few lessons we can learn from this man’s story:

  1. Bad things in our life come to us from ourselves, the devil or others.  When we meet with difficulty we should examine ourselves as to where this trouble might be coming from so we can respond appropriately.  Job’s troubles did not come from his own sin or foolishness, nor did they come from others.  His troubles came from the devil – Satan – evil spirits.
  2. There is a spiritual warfare.  We must understand that mankind has an unseen enemy that desires to ensnare us and destroy us.  For some he destroys them by sickness or poverty – for others he destroys and binds them by success and wealth.
  3. God is good and God is sovereign.  This is what we see throughout the pages of the Bible.  Do not be confused about this:  God is good and loves you.  Sometimes in his sovereign plan for us He allows us to go through difficulties for a season, but his ultimate aim is good.  Romans 8:28.  God tests us to develop our faith; the devil tempts us to destroy our faith.
  4. God will not allow you to be tempted above what you can take and will provide a way out.  Remember that!  No matter how difficult it seems God knows you can take it and He is providing a way to win over this difficulty for our good if we are patient, endure and look for it.  1 Corinthians 10:13.
  5. Stay focused on who God is, what He has done for you in the past, what He is doing for you during this time, and what He will do for you in the end.
  6. In the end, all things will work out for the good.  He promises that.  Be patient and don’t make a bad decision during the midst of your difficulty.  Romans 8:28
  7. Sometimes well-meaning friends don’t know our deepest heart and they speak unkind words or unkind action.  Try to love them back with the love of God. Matthew 5:44.

In the end, God restores all and more to Mr. Job.  This is how God works if we remain faithful and true to Him and guard our hearts against bitterness.

If you’re walking through a difficulty now, don’t give up.  There is light at the end of the tunnel (no, and it’s not a train!)  God is working in you a great glory and your present sufferings are preparing you for even more!

16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Light at the End of the Tunnel 1

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