We are coming up for 24 years in Christian leadership this year. Almost half of my life I’ve been leading churches or Christian organizations of some sort or other. We started as we got married and apart from a few extended breaks we have been at it non stop for that time.
In the early years I would run like crazy, crashing my way thru whatever I found difficult and cleaning up the mess afterwards (or not). When it came to re-energising and living sustainably I didn’t really think about it. I was young, determined and tireless. But I was also like the sprinter with no form. Lots of body parts flailing wildly, but the actual forward movement was not that exciting.
As time went on and our marriage took some massive hits as a result of my workaholism I started to become quite disciplined with my re-charging. Regular sabbaths, a scheduled and fairly non negotiable day off during the week as well as time to go off in retreats formed the basis of my re-energising. This worked and got some sanity back in our lives but it was a discipline because I still felt compelled to change the world.
In this phase of life I seem to have changed tack yet again. The shift has been more intuitive than intentional but as I was talking with friends the other day I found myself describing how we recharge these days like this:
Rather than taking time out to go ‘back to the well’ we now seek to ‘live by the well’.
We aim to live in such a way and at such a pace that we are close to the source of life and able to draw from him as needed. It inevitably means fewer ‘mountain top’ experiences but it also means fewer times of significant disconnection and wandering into unhealthy places.
When I say ‘living by the well’ I’m simply speaking of a way of approaching life that is more integrated and seamless, rather than segmented into work and rest. It’s not without its challenges because when life does get busy we don’t have strict schedules to protect us, but the reality is that we are much at better at managing our time and being careful with what we say yes to.
I think different approaches to sustainability work for different people – and may be appropriate for different stages of life – but I find where we live now and the way we allow life to flow together has helped us become more whole as people as well as allowing our leadership to be less driven and a whole lot more attractive.
I wish I’d known how to live a more integrated life at 30, but then I think I would have perceived me as lazy then…