The story of Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal has always been a favorite of mine. I love the way the writer describes the face-off between Elijah and the 400 prophets of Baal. Elijah challenged Baal’s prophet to this showdown to prove who was for real, Baal or God. You might remember that God won, people turned back to God and Elijah had all Baal’s prophets killed.
You’d think Elijah would be on a high after that. But he wasn’t. When Queen Jezebel heard about what happened, she threatened Elijah’s life. Rather than being emboldened by this great ministry success and the revival of the nation, Elijah got so scared he ran to the other side of the desert, hid in a cave and said a simple prayer to God, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (I Kings 19:4)
In the world of pastors and preachers, this story is often told in relation to an all-too-common condition found among the clergy . . . burn-out. And while I have never had a Jezebel who was out to kill me and never had a face-off with the prophets of Baal, I do understand just what Elijah was feeling. In fact, I venture to say that most ministers have felt like Elijah at one time or another. If you are curious about the statistics of clergy burnout, you can read more about it here.
Over the years I have learned to recognize the signs of burnout but more importantly I have learned how to take care of myself when I feel it coming on. I have learned to exercise, try to maintain a healthy diet, spend time with Jill and the boys and follow the example of Elijah. If you remember the story, Elijah did three things. He recharged (1 Kings 19:5-8), released his frustrations (1 Kings 19:9-19) and refocused on God (1 Kings 19:11).
In order to take care of myself and be able to lead MoCity1st into the future God has planned for us, I am taking the example of Elijah to heart. No, I don’t plan to run and hide, asking God to take my life. But I am going to use the month of July to recharge my soul and listen for God’s voice. During the week, I will be in and out of the office since we now have our new associates to help with the pastoral care and day to day activities of the church. Please know that the staff will always be able to get hold of me; like I said, I am not hiding in a cave. On Sunday mornings, you might see me sitting with Jill in worship or we might use Sunday mornings to visit other congregations. But have no fear, Richard and our new associates will be preaching, teaching and leading worship.
I hope you will pray for MoCity1st and her staff as we continue to move in the direction God is leading us. I also hope that you will pray for me as I listen for God’s still small voice.