I've grown much better at recognizing what I need to stay strong. It's been a journey. One we know our staff need to be on, so we recently challenged them in this area. Since we aren't in this for a sprint, but for a marathon, we need to take responsibility over our lives to ensure that we stay in the game for the long haul. We, as the ministry leaders, are responsible to them, but not responsible for them. Each of us carries the personal responsibility to stay strong and not burn out.
For many people, though, the most difficult thing is the first step: identifying what they need to include -- and to avoid -- in their day, week, and month in order to stay strong. (And this is different for each one of us.) I think it's a challenge for some because it seems to go against our theology of putting others first. But we can't continue to put others first successfully if we don't make ourselves and our own personal emotional/physical health and strength more of a priority...
Anyway, I've become more aware of my own needs in this area. One specific thing is my need to "shut off" at the end of the day. I've realized that when I stay up late working, I have a very hard time falling to sleep. My mind stays in "high power" mode and I am literally unable to stop thinking, answering emails in my head, and going over what I need to do in the coming day(s). Insufficient sleep then makes me grumpy (ask Niel!), and unproductive and inefficient when I am supposed to be working.
In the past several months, I have gotten much better at leaving my work in my office when I finish at the end of the day. Sometimes my "quitting time" is still later than it should be, but now when I leave work, I literally leave work. I used to check email again before bed, but now I intentionally do not turn on my laptop. I know that it will start my brain wheels spinning and I won't be able to shut them down!
I find I'm sleeping much better than I ever have. It's amazing! And...it's Biblical: Overwork makes for restless sleep. Well, waddayaknow?!
What do you need to be more intentional about including -- or avoiding -- in your day/week/month to keep yourself strong?