My check engine light is on in my car.
It’s the pretty bright yellow one right in the middle of the dashboard. You can’t miss it. It’s my car’s way of saying, “Something’s wrong – better get this checked out.”
It’s been on for three weeks. And, I’ve noticed something – the longer I drive with it on, the less it bothers me. I sort of get used to the warning. But common sense has finally arrived, and I’ve decided to take it in for the diagnostic test before I wind up on the side of the road. Brilliant, I know.
But a far more significant warning light might be on for some of you. There are some warnings going off in your life and ministry that left unchecked could put you on the side of the road as well.
How do you know when the “Check engine light” is on in your ministry?
- You are continually frustrated with the people nearest to you. They are doing their work and meeting their responsibilities, but nothing meets your expectations. Nothing. And this is especially true with your spouse and kids.
- You catch yourself making excuses all the time. For the meeting you missed, for the deadline you blew past, or for the incomplete assignment. You are constantly saying “I’m so busy right now,” or “I haven’t felt well,” or “I didn’t know when it was due,” or “My wife didn’t tell me,” or “No one understands what I’m going through,” or fill in the blank.
- You can’t relax – ever. You are tethered to your phone, tablet, or computer. You can’t sit still. You can’t enjoy an evening with your family. You jump every time anyone reaches out to you no matter what is going on. You aren’t listening to anything, reading anything, taking in anything. And, you aren’t sleeping very well either.
- Your Bible becomes a source book you have to read instead of a love letter from home you want to read. You are reading the Bible, but only as necessary for your planning or preparation. You have no hunger to hear from the Lord as you read his word.
- You can’t pray. You think about it. You want to pray. You throw one-liners at the Lord all the time. But, sitting down with your spouse or staff in a prayer time, or spending time alone with the Lord with your Bible open and your heart in prayer, just doesn’t seem to happen. Your thoughts run to social media accounts and email and you struggle to focus any time in prayer.
- You are unnecessarily alone. I would say this one is actually a red warning light on your dashboard. If you find yourself isolated more and more, then you have very little time to get your engine checked out before something blows up. There is very little more dangerous than a leader under stress that is separated from others.
How are things going in these days? Life in ministry can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining.
So make some time, find a place, get back to the Word of God, and start writing out your prayers. Read them over and over. Confide in your spouse and pray together. Intentionally unplug from unnecessary activities. Attempt less and finish more. Slow down, be deliberate, exhale.
And… pay close attention to your check engine light before you wind up on the side of the road.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.