Three Lessons From My Three Week Break!
I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Others saw it in me, but I missed it. The stress was building. Things weren’t going quite as well as they had been. I wasn’t sleeping very well. My eating habits were changing, and not to the better. I was being short with people. I was letting commitments fall through. In short, I needed a break and didn’t even realize it. And to be honest, If my wife and I hadn’t started planning our 10th anniversary vacation a year prior, I probably wouldn’t have taken that break. But I’m so glad I did. First, because that vacation helped my wife and I to reconnect in great ways. Second, because I got some deeply needed rest and perspective. Third, we got to see and experience a beautiful island. But upon reflecting on the last few weeks I’ve discovered a few lessons that I learned during my three week break (vacation was just one week, but I took another couple of weeks break from this blog).
This summer has been a season of transition. At our church we are living into a new financial reality. We’ve experienced staff changes in key positions. And, like every year at this time, we’ve been preparing for our fall slate of ministry. It’s been stressful. The challenges are seemingly huge. I’m sure you can relate. Whether it’s in your work, your family, or your own church, we all experience these times of stress and change. A focused break might help. Now, I know it seems counter-productive to take a break right when the situation seems to demand your focused attention. But here’s three things I learned from my break that might convince you that it’s ok to take a break in the midst of the challenge.
1. Don’t think about it at all – Then think deeply. I learned that for the break to work I needed to have some time where I wouldn’t think about the challenges at all. And I mean, NOT AT All. I developled a little habit during our one week vacation, if I started to think about the situation at home, I’d walk to the window and stare at the ocean. I’d simply let the thoughts disappear. It worked for me. Figure out what works for you. The principle is that we need to disconnect our minds from the situation for a time in order to think more deeply and focused about it later. It was on the flight home that I began to think more deeply and focused regarding the challenges I would face when I returned to the office. It was amazing to me, I quickly realized that I had a new perspective that I would not have had if I hadn’t disconnected for a time. The break prepared me to think more deeplyand focused about the challenges.
2. Balance the 30,000 foot view with the 3 ft. reality. Maybe it was on the flight home that I had something of revelation. I tend to think and evaluate everything from a 30,000 foot perspective. I like to think about the big picture, the grand narrative, the overarching vision, well you get it, I usually have my head in the clouds. And normally that’s great! We need visionaries in the church. Yet, there is a time when that perspective needs to be balanced with the 3 foot reality. I needed to get out of the clouds for a season and focus on the actions that needed to be taken right here on the ground. I think many pastors and leaders are more naturally “30,000 foot view” people, and it’s tempting to get stuck in the alititude and miss the action on the ground. I was!
3. Talk it out! I’m a thinker. An internal processor. I like to sit in the office and think deeply from the 30,000 foot perspective. And when I get stuck I move on to something else. I’ve learned I need some help talking out the issues and challenges. I hired a coach. Someone who will listen deeply to me, compel me to talk, and reflect back what I’m missing. This has been invaluable. I’ve discovered that I can talk out the challenges. So often when I’m talking through the challenge with my coach I discover a solution that had been there all along. I can’t reccomend it strongly enough, if you haven’t worked with a coach, you should give it a shot! (message me, I give you some great recommendations!)
So there they are. The three lessons I learned from my break. Are you facing some challenges in work or life? Are you stuck? Is the stress building? Do you lack clarity because you’ve been so stressed and busy working on the challenges? What are you going to do? If you do nothing else, get a coach!
Grace and Peace, Rich
I can help you find a coach, just email me or leave a comment!