When I took off my glasses and tried to read those little letters at the bottom of the eye chart, I realized why I need glasses. I'm 55! My "far" vision is pretty good, but my "near" vision is terrible. Things are really blurry up close. It was embarrassing.
It was a good reminder to me about why I'm taking a sabbatical to get away from the "day-to-day" of church ministry. Things get really blurry when they're up close. To see clearly, I need new eyes. I need to step back, look at the big picture, and listen to God. Then he can give me his vision.
This goes along with a good book I started today: Leading on Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro. The subtitle is "Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion." Cordeiro is the pastor of a huge church in Hawaii. The book recounts his experience with burnout and recovery. It's also a clarion call to build your inner life and honor reasonable boundaries, to make sure you finish well.
Cordeiro says the same thing I have read over and over again during my sabbatical: "Do the things only you can do."
Cordeiro says that 85% of what we do, anyone can do. With a little training, most people could do another 10% of what we do. But unfortunately, because we are insecure, or refuse to delegate, or are just undisciplined, many of us give our time and attention to that 95%, and neglect the 5% that only we can do. It's that "crucial 5%" that God will one day hold us accountable for.
I spent some time recalling what God has particularly called me to as senior pastor of UPC. I came up with these priorities:
- Set an example of a sinner growing in grace in my personal, family, and community life;
- Study, pray, and preach the gospel on a weekly basis;
- Provide overall vision and direction for the church;
- Equip and guide the elders and staff; and
- Raise up other leaders.
If I can do that 5% to any degree of success, praise God! That's enough!
Obviously, we all have to do things that lie outside our job description from time to time. But I think Wayne Cordeiro is right. We all need a new way of seeing. We can't - we shouldn't - do it all. If we try to do it all, we'll wind up leading on empty.