During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command operated 24 hours a day as a shield of protection for our nation. This meant that at any point in a given day, there were fully combat-configured bombers flying to assure the safety of our nation.
Since these planes flew constantly, how did they remain full of gas? They did what is called mid-flight refueling. A refueling plane actually flew up next to the Strategic Air Command plane, docked in, and filled the plane with gas.
As a pastor, you need to learn how to refuel your life in mid-flight. You can’t just hop off to a tropical island every time you get tired and discouraged. You have to keep going. You have to learn how to recharge yourself in the middle of your hectic lifestyle.
The fact is, it takes energy to do God’s will. What do you do when you run out of energy? Psalm 94:19 says, “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer” (TLB).
I suggest that once a day, you should go outside in your yard, sit down, and just be quiet. I’m not talking about reading your Bible. You ought to read your Bible every day, but I’m talking about getting alone for five minutes a day and being completely silent. Ask God a question, and then just sit there and listen.
On days when I’m really stressed out from problems and crises, I go home knowing that when I walk through my front door I’ll be greeting a wife who also has problems and issues and who also needs me.
Often when I’ve had a really hectic day I will walk up to the front door and not go in. I’ll just stand there for a minute, before my wife knows I’m home, and take a few deep breaths. I’ll stand there and decompress for a minute. We used to have this big old milk container that sat outside the front door, and I used to call it my worry jug. I’d stand there and imagine putting all my worries in the jug so I wouldn’t take them into the house with me.
Learn to take little mini-breaks during the day. When you feel your pressure rising, just stop and say, “God, I want to tune in to you again. I want to focus in on you.” I’m not suggesting 30 minutes of meditation. I’m talking about 15 or 20 seconds. Just little mini-breaks where you stop and be quiet.
Inevitably, it’s tough to live God’s plan for your life. You start getting distracted. You start having discouragement. You start to doubt. And you start to coast. And when you coast, you start heading downhill.
Discouragement leads to doubt. How do you defeat doubt? You remember three things:
- I remind myself of God’s goodness yesterday. I make a list of all the things he’s done in my life, and I just start being thankful. The attitude of gratitude is the healthiest emotion that you can have.
- I remember God’s presence today. I remind myself that he’s with me right now. I’m not alone. Even when I feel like I’m completely alone, I’m not. I’ve just forgotten that he’s there with me.
- I remind myself of God’s promises for tomorrow. There are thousands of promises for us in the Bible. Each one is something I can claim in faith.
God’s goodness yesterday, God’s presence today, God’s promises tomorrow. I don’t need to doubt. I don’t need to be discouraged. I don’t need to be distracted. I can renew myself daily.
If you want to last over the long haul of ministry, you have to learn how to recharge yourself spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Second Corinthians 4:16 says, “For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day” (GNT).
Figure out what renews you. Make a list of the things that keep you going, the things that re-energize you. Then do those things over and over.
Here’s an easy formula to remember: Divert daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually. Know what relaxes you and what recharges you spiritually, physically, mentally—and do it.