Having observed hundreds of church planters and other Christian leaders, I know that many, if not most, have only fumes left in their tanks as they begin a new week. When I ask a leader during a life planning process, “What is your Replenishment Cycle?” Most of the time I am met with a blank stare, or “Uhhhhh, I don’t know.”
Most of us are not good at self-care.
Without a Replenishment Cycle for our lives, we are doomed to ministering to our church plants out of emptiness and scarcity rather than fullness and plenty. Further, as we drain down, we suffer and ultimately burn out, our spouses lose the joy of the journey, and our kids miss out on energy and affection that should rightfully be theirs.
The reason for having a Replenishment Cycle is so that you can minister with a sense of joy and well-being so that your family and church get the best part of you, and so that you not only start well but finish well.
I got serious about my Replenishment Cycle when my life planner said, “If you don’t exercise and take care of yourself, you will die prematurely and not accomplish all the things that you see God calling you to.
For the first time in 35 years, I embarked on an exercise regime which was systematic because it was part of accomplishing God’s will for my life.
Intentionality should be the keyword in a Replenishment Cycle. I believe that you should intentionally plan to recharge your batteries with activities and rest that give you energy. For some, it will be exercising, for others watching a movie, or reading a book (not for sermon prep!), or fishing, or hiking, or engaging with some good friends in a conversation. Or, all of these!
As a rule of thumb, I believe you should spend at least 10% of your working hours on self-care. So, if you work a 50 hour week, you need to spend 5 hours per week replenishing yourself intentionally. At first you may be tempted to say, I don’t have 5 hours per week, but the truth is, if we don’t replenish intentionally, we waste that amount of time watching dumb TV that really isn’t what we like to do, or in other activities that aren’t replenishing—our bodies need recharge time. How much better is it to spend that 5 hours (or more) per week doing something that gives us true joy and replenishment and allows us to return to our families and churches with zest and vigor. Again, the keyword is intentionality not numbing out.
So, how do you build a Replenishment Cycle?
- Take a blank piece of paper, a cup of coffee, and your spouse or a good friend and plan to spend 45 minutes thinking about what makes you feel full.
- Draw a large circle on the paper and put several blank boxes around the circle.
- Begin to brainstorm what gives you energy when you do it.
- Identify daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly cycles.
- Daily replenishers can include quiet time, morning pages, journaling, writing, reading, exercise, or working on a fun hobby for a short, but regular period of time.
- Weekly refueling activities might be a night out, a game of golf, a hike, a movie, a Sabbath rest from electronics (cell phone, computer, email and Facebook)
- Quarterly activities might include a retreat, an overnighter with your spouse, or an extended hobby break.
- Yearly activities should include vacations and other special times. (It is no accident that God created at least 3 festivals for His people that were extended times of rest and rejuvenation as well as the Sabbath.)
The key to these activities is that we should look forward to doing them with anticipation and be more energized after doing them than before.
Having identified these activities, now it is time to assign the amount of time you need for these.
Finally and most importantly put them on your calendar!
If you try this for a month, I believe that you will feel so much better about your church plant, about yourself, and your family will feel so much better about you, that you will make it a lifelong habit.
Give yourself permission to take care of yourself!
It is good for you, for your family and ultimately for your church plant.
YOU ARE WORTH IT!