Have you ever tried flying while having a head cold? It can be a painful experience. The pressure in the cabin because of the altitude tends to overwhelm the already sensitive sinuses, causing a tremendous ear-ache. The only way to get relief is to plug your nose and blow. This pressure from the inside equalizes the outside pressure and you will sense immediate relief. Now I know doctors discourage this behavior, but it works.
This is a good analogy for our spiritual lives as well. When our outside world or circumstances bring overwhelming pressure, the only way to survive is to build up our internal pressure to counter what's coming at us from the outside. This is called "equalizing the pressure" and the only way I have found to equalize the pressure is by getting the Word and the Spirit of God on the inside.
Jesus faced enormous amounts of pressure while he was here on earth. People came from everywhere demanding his time and attention. How did Jesus handle this constant pressure? Matthew gives us an insight in Matthew 14:13, "When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place." Later on in the chapter we read this in verse 23, "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone." If Jesus, God Himself, needed to withdraw sometimes to refuel and refresh then I think we might need to make a habit of doing the same!
Paul, the Apostle, said this in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." Paul knew where his source of comfort came from. It came from God, not from a person, or from food, or from entertainment, or even from just resting. His source of comfort was God.
I know that as pastors and leaders we are regularly giving of ourselves to people and to needs. This constant giving can be draining and if we don't refuel, pretty soon there won't be anything more to give!
I used to think that all I needed when I was tired was rest. So I would make a habit of using my days off to sleep in, watch movies, or play games with my family. While these things are not bad in and of themselves, I found I was still empty and tired when it came to going back to work. I have since changed my habits, and if you are a leader, I would recommend you reflect on your re-creation habits as well.
I make a habit of daily feeding myself in the Word and in communion with Holy Spirit. That seems like a given for a pastor, but it is amazing how many of us slip into the habit of only opening the Word for sermon prep and study. We need to daily feed ourselves aside from what we are preparing to preach.
I have also made a daily habit of listening to sermon podcasts. I have loaded my car with MP3 podcasts of some of my favorite preachers and every day I listen to 1 or 2 messages as I drive to and from work. It's another great way of downloading the Word and being personally fed.
Another recreating habit for me is each week I aim to read a book. I've made a habit of using the afternoon's on my day off to sit in a good coffee shop for a couple of hours with a book and a coffee. I find this habit much more empowering and energizing than resting or watching a movie.
My point is this, the greater the pressure you are facing the more important it is for you to equalize the pressure internally. The greatest way to equalize the pressure is to spend quality time in the Word and with Holy Spirit. I'd encourage you to start today!
Question: What is your daily or weekly habit of refueling yourself? Please leave a comment below in the "Leave a Reply" box.