Last week’s blog suggested tracking which activities give you energy and which drain your energy, then spending at least 80% of your time on energy-giving activities. It’s just as important to be aware of how the people you spend time with affect your energy.
In my church work I am on the giving end, not the receiving end, of most of the encouraging and affirming. That’s not unusual. In my work with church leaders over four decades, I have observed that most staff members feel that they do more giving than receiving.
When God has called you to invest your life in people who have great emotional needs, how can you consistently minister out of an overflowing cup (Psalm 23:5) rather than being sucked dry? Here is some of what I am learning.
- Limit time with energy-draining people. Are there people who demand more time than you have offered, or who expect you to do for them what they could and should be doing for themselves? People who have a pattern of complaining or criticizing? It is your responsibility to define how much time and energy you will offer them–and when and where. If you have trouble setting boundaries, ask a spiritual director or pastor friend or counselor or spouse to help you think through appropriate boundaries. Then ask him or her to check to see how you are following through.
- Spend more time with energizing people. Which people give you more energy than they take? How can you be intentional about spending more time with them?
- Ask God to connect you with energizing partners. Last Friday evening my wife and I spent four delightful hours with a friend, mostly sharing stories of how God had shown up in our lives. The next day as I was praying I reflected on how energized I felt from our time together, and sensed that I needed to spend more time with this person. We are now exploring how we can invest in one another’s ministries in ways that energize us both. I am also asking God to send our church one or more spiritually mature, emotionally healthy families to partner in our urban mission work. I need more people in my life who give me energy, and I trust that God intends to meet that need.
- Let God energize you. Spending time one-on-one with God, casting our cares on him, asking for God’s perspective on our day, and rejoicing in the opportunities he has given us—this is foundational to living out of overflow.
- Who are your energy-drainers? Do you need to set healthier boundaries with them? Do you need someone to help you define and enforce the boundaries?
- Who are your energizers? How can you be intentional about spending more time with them?
- Ask God to connect you with more people who give you energy, even as you encourage them.
- Block out time regularly to receive energy from God.