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Flame Out

Bernadette O’Shea

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You're Malnourished Spiritually
You know you've seen them-the people who put their Bibles or bulletins down to save their spot in big church but leave to serve somewhere else in the church. These people will probably enter service later or maybe not at all. There's a church I once attended where I always saw the Bible but never the person. I also saw a staff member who, when her ministry time was over, left church and never attended a service. No one knew she did this. Not the ministry leader, pastor…no one. The last three months she was on staff, she and her husband had separated. During those three months, no one knew what she was going through. She finally quit her job and left the church.

I've been there. I remember sitting at a Christmas service and realizing I couldn't remember the last time I'd participated in a church service that didn't require me working. Have you been there?

As a children's minister or volunteer, when was the last time you participated in communion? Attended a church service with no other responsibility? Didn't have to "sneak out" during closing prayer to go to your next ministry assignment? Shared with your pastor your personal needs? Ministry leaders need love and care just as much as those we serve.

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You're Afraid to Take a Break
If someone offered you a free vacation, what would you say? "My ministry needs me!" "How can I go away with so much going on?" "What if I miss something?" All these excuses are rooted in pride. If you always worry about what'll happen when you're gone, you need a self-evaluation. People who are immature in a position can worry if their subordinates are a potential risk for them to lose their job. They fear that if they leave, someone will outshine them.

Another reason for not taking a break is that you actually believe that everything would fall apart without you. Remember that if you put people in positions who are qualified enough to do the job, you don't need to come to their rescue. Your absence could actually help your team grow.

In ministry, our goal is to raise up warriors in the faith to go to battle. Your team will never learn if you don't give them the opportunity to activate the God-given potential within them. If you're feeling stressed, taking a well-earned break is a win-win for everyone. You get to recharge your batteries and your team has the opportunity to serve in a new and exciting way.

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