vitality (vī-tāl’ĭ-tē) n. : (1) The capacity to live, grow, or develop. (2) Physical or intellectual vigor; energy.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” ~ Mark 1:35-37
Life feels non-stop. The pace and expectations of relationships, family, ministry, marketplace, and extracurricular activities are often overwhelming. And here’s the reality: it’s reality (okay, that was brilliantly redundant). Life simply happens at a quick pace. So how do we not live life on “empty”? How do we not live in a place of perpetual burnout? How do we nurture vitality? Here are five ways I’m learning to nurture personal and professional vitality.
1. Recognize areas of low energy, frustration or burnout. I must constantly be in tune with how I’m doing and feeling. Am I so tired that a good night’s sleep doesn’t restore me? Am I irritable and short with the people in my life? Do I struggle with concentration at work? Do I have the energy to take on the most important things? I constantly ask myself these questions. If I am experiencing low energy, tiredness, and irritability, I need to be diligent to figure out why. And I must also be willing to do something about it. We can only run on fumes for so long.
2. Don’t substitute your work for God with your relationship with God (Shawn Lovejoy). This is a great temptation. In ministry we can easily allow serving God to replace knowing God. Preparing for a message becomes a substitute for my devotional time. Team meetings become a substitute for small group community. Challenging the church to evangelism becomes a substitute for personal evangelism. Counseling other people becomes a substitute to doing our own soul excavation.
3. Discover and implement your rhythm of connecting with Jesus. There is no one-size-fit-all in developing our relationship with Jesus. It takes experimentation, success, and failure to figure out how we best connect with Jesus. Gary Thomas’ Sacred Pathways has helped me discover my “spiritual temperament” and how I best connect with Jesus. Some people thrive with a daily quiet time. Some people thrive with a longer devotional time one or two times a week. Some people thrive with Jesus on a walk in nature. Some people thrive with Jesus in serving peoples’ needs. Discover your spiritual temperament and how you best connect with Jesus. And then do it.
4. Schedule regular days away (at least quarterly). For years I have been a big proponent of regular, longer days away with Jesus…longer periods of time away from the noise of regular life. Here’s a personal “Guide to Spending the Day with Jesus.” It’s what I do on my days away. Again, discover your own rhythm.
5. Develop a Personal & Professional Development Plan. There are areas in our lives where we need growth, personally and professionally. Do less better. Take one area of personal growth and one area of professional growth and develop/implement a plan to address it. What resources do you need? How much time will it take to address these areas? What will success look like? Share these areas with a friend, a spouse, a co-worker, and/or your boss. Have someone hold you accountable for these areas and goals.
Here are some great resources that help me nurture vitality in my own personal and professional life:
- Leading on Empty – Wayne Cordiero
- The Measure of Our Success – Shawn Lovejoy
- The Voice of Jesus – Gordon Smith
- Sacred Pathways – Gary Thomas
Your turn: What do you do to nurture health and vitality in your personal and professional life? Any resources you’d recommend?