By: Dan Reiland
I have been thinking about the stresses and pressures we are all carrying these days and attempting to focus on the practical things that help promote mental and spiritual health.
Whether you are a church leader, a parent leading your family, or leading in the business arena, we all need to lean into what helps us think and live healthily so we can better care for and lead others.
This does not dismiss:
1) The reality of the situation.
There’s no question that devastating things are happening in our world, and COVID-19 is at the top of the list right now. My suggestions do not pretend to make big problems magically disappear, but they do help us keep leading with a positive spirit.
2) The need to be vigilant.
The vast majority of our time and attention is needed to handle what is not normal in our midst. However, we must remain strong, human, connected, and reminded of the little things, the important things that make solving the big problems worthwhile.
3) The need for our focus to be on the hope of Christ
Jesus is and has always been the one who promises to help us with what we cannot solve. He is the giver of wisdom to solve problems, strength to endure challenges, and hope in our ultimate destiny. I’m offering some everyday things that really do help. The calmer, poised, and at peace you are personally, the better you can lead the people God has given you responsibility for.
10 Ways To Help You Live More “Normal”
(What’s normal? I know… but each of us has a normal, our normal, and when it’s disrupted, we know it.)
The goal is not for you to do all 10.
Select the ones most helpful to you.
Don’t let this be a task; let it be life-giving.
1) Establish a new routine.
We are creatures of habit, and routine is essential. And a routine is different than a rut. A routine brings stability so we can remain healthy and more productive. A rut is when you are stuck, not growing, and not experiencing spiritual health. Most of us have recently had our routines blown up. Some of you have kids at home. You love your kids, but that’s a big routine breaker.
Then add the fact that perhaps all of you are home – all the time. Nothing further needs to be said.
Modify your family systems.
Make new plans.
Set new routines.
I highly encourage you to organize and simplify. That will not solve all your problems, but it helps you lift your spirit. Moreover, candidly, it will give you something where you can see immediate and tangible results. In a time when it feels like nothing is in your control, it will help your mental health and overall disposition.
2) Reach out to your friends.
You are probably in close touch with your friends and colleagues you connect with regularly. I’m suggesting that you consider friends and colleagues that you haven’t talked with, texted, or messaged on social media for a long time. Reach out and check-in. Let them know you’re thinking about them. A text or any method is great. Take a moment to pray for them and let them know you prayed.
Don’t make it a project, or a task on your to-do list; consider it a privilege to encourage someone today. This will warm your heart and lift your frame of mind.
3) Take time to be quiet.
Time to be quiet is desperately needed by everyone, especially in times of fear and uncertainty. My world is noisy; quiet is priceless to me. I will admit that if I get too much alone time or quiet, I will literally start looking for someone to talk to. But quiet reflection is essential for the well-being of your soul.
I’m not referring only or specifically to your “quiet time” or daily devotional (although you might prefer to combine them), but real quiet time. Just to “be still,” to think and reflect. I have a cup or two of tea a day, and that is very centering and a good pause for reflection. Don’t dismiss the impact of the little things, the simple things in your life. What’s one or two little things or simple pleasures that help keep you grounded?
4) Keep your body moving.
I’m not promoting an exercise routine or any specific workout, though that’s always a good idea. That’s up to you. I’m literally referring to keeping your body moving. It’s far too easy to remain stationary and become sedentary in most leadership roles. Allow yourself to move several times a day. If you are in deep study or on the phone or doing email, get up and stretch, take a few laps or go crazy and do a few push-ups. Take a short walk. Anything. Keep moving; your body was designed for it, and it helps you feel better, think better, and lead better.
5) Do one simple thing for someone else.
Doing practical and physically present things for people is becoming more and more complicated as we are all wisely staying more socially distant. But we can find ways to love and care for people. I recently heard about someone having a meal delivered to an elderly couple who was afraid to go to the grocery store. It was a phone call and a bit of money. Another person picked up medicine for a friend. The key is that this should be a joy for you, not a duty. No guilt, it’s a “get to,” not a “have to.”
6) Take a break from social media.
Used wisely, social media is a useful tool that enhances ministry in significant ways. Personally, however, a break from social media, even if just for a few hours, is healthy. Use that time to read a good book, one not connected to your work.
The length of your break is obviously up to you. Some leaders go on a social media fast for weeks; others just shut down for a half-day on occasion. The important thing is that you can, and do, take periodic breaks regardless of how long. If you can’t lay your phone down for a few hours, “normal” may be difficult for you to find and experience.
This is a very serious time on our planet, but we need moments to breathe and feel normal for a bit. Laughter is great for your soul. It’s a natural medicine to help you stay fresh and restore your physical and emotional energy so you can pour into and lead others.
For me, it might be an episode of a tv show, or just sharing a funny story with a friend over the phone or playing a board game with family!! How about you?
Let’s not let the Enemy take advantage of what’s happening around us by stealing all the joy from our souls. Find the everyday humor in your life.
8) Express gratitude.
Few things restore and strengthen your soul more than a grateful heart. It would be easy these days to get caught up in what you don’t have. That’s a natural response to loss, and we all experience it to one degree or another. The emotion that comes with that experience can be anywhere from discouraging to crushing. But getting stuck there and dwelling on it is not helpful to you. Do your best to focus on what you do have and the hope of a better future. Those you lead don’t expect you to be superhuman, but they count on you to have hope.
9) Listen to music.
I’m a Beatles fan and proud of it. My new granddaughter already loves the Beatles at six weeks old. (Train up a child… )
What music do you love?
Music does wonders for the soul. Listen to some of your favorites as much as you can.
And of course, your favorite worship music is a great choice as well!
Just don’t do the guilt thing… if you like country, pop, classical, whatever, it’s OK, turn it up!
10) Pray God’s promises of love and hope.
I’ve saved the best for last. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I feel “bewildered and disoriented” when I’m not intimately close, daily, in my relationship with Jesus. I love time with God. His promises alone keep me going on tough days.
One of my favorite passages is Psalm 34:4-9:
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.”
© 2020 Dan Reiland | The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders