I am privileged this week to be a part of the Acts 29 Network pastor’s retreat in Boulder, Colorado. Today we heard Mark Driscoll speak very honestly about the subject of “Death by Ministry.” Mark candidly admitted that stress and the related physical and emotional symptoms that it brings to pastors is presently doing a number on him personally. He pulled no punches, spoke from the heart, and warned us to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically. I felt the room full of mostly under-35 year old pastors was given a unique opportunity to face some of the greatest dangers of modern pastoral ministry. I wish a leader had given me the same counsel when I was in my 30’s.
Some of Mark’s solutions included practical suggestions such as:
1. Do not overfill your plate. Know what your unique plate can hold and only put something new on it when you take something off it.
2. Exercise physically.
3. Do not allow technology to become your Lord.
4. Sabbath rest is critical to good health.
5. Pick a release valve and find out how you can uniquely deal with stress points in your life.
6. Work on your life, not just at your life.
7. Leave margin in your schedule so that you are not continually running here and there.
8. Spend most of your time training leaders.
9. Cultivate personal mindfulness and know what causes stress in your own life.
10. Feel you emotions but do not let them drive you.
11. Do not let worry drive you into a frenzy.
12. Work from conviction, not from guilt.
13. Get a life coach or counselor you can trust and use them for your benefit.
Mark Driscoll is one of the most unique young leaders in the North American church. He continues to amaze me in the way that he continually keeps learning and the way in which he shows a consistent willingness to listen and to face and admit his own weaknesses. It is refreshing to be around such a guy and to see how he positively impacts other young visionary leaders by being human in a Christ-centered way. I am also amazed at how Mark can disagree without making every issue into a deal breaker. He wants to live well and to finish well. The men who are church planters in the Acts 29 Network that I have mingled with and taught this week are some of the very best visionary ministers I have known personally.