Are you thriving or surviving?

True confession, I need my wife more than my wife needs me! Now that’s not so unusual; most honest men would probably admit the same thing, but it’s still a bit embarrassing. Truth be told, if I got hit by the ice cream truck, Linda would be able to manage well without me. By contrast, if she got trampled by a moose on the loose while hiking, I would have a much harder struggle.

On a recent hike together I was pondering this point, and then something else occurred to me. While neither one of us needs the other to survive, we do need each other to thrive. Without Linda I could eventually learn to cook something other than scrambled eggs with cheese. However, I’m too impatient to chop up multiple organic herbs and vegetables for a fresh salad every night - or ever.

In short, I don’t need my wife to survive, but I do need her to thriveShe enriches my life immensely, and not just in the kitchen! But Linda is not the only life enriching resource I have. God is my greatest resource. Only God can be God to me.

By God’s grace I’ve been led to the land of well-being in at least three ways: devotionally, physically and relationally. These are the three areas of my life that consistently produce the greatest return on investment for me.

  • Devotionally - I love to begin each day slowly soaking in God’s presence, listening for His leading and seeking His prompting.
  • Physically - I’ve learned that motion is lotion for my aging body. My goal is not to develop show muscles but go muscles!
  • Relationally - I daily seek to connect with life enhancing people that sharpen, deepen, resource and connect me.

Thriving is all about well-being. In Psalm 35:27 King David once prayed, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.”  Frankly, too many times my stinkin’ thinkin’ and substandard theology has led me to patterns that were far from conducive to my well being.

  • Devotionally - I once determined to read the entire Bible out loud over the course of a year. That drained me more than blessed me.
  • Physically - I once adhered to a daily jogging regimen in all weathers. That actually led me to injuries, especially when running on snow and ice.
  • Relationally - I once committed to a schedule that included both evening appointments and early morning meetings. Burning the candle at both ends left me depleted by weariness and self-pity.

Most of the best lessons I’ve learned have been learned the hard way. These are the life giving lessons that I’m seeking to share with other leaders near and far. The lessons are all rooted in well being, versus demanding disciplines. While I used to talk frequently (even brag) about my personal disciplines, goals and habits, I now prefer to talk about my life giving rhythms. Guilt may be a great short term motivator, but only grace works well over the long term. I’m learning to focus more on the why and less on the what.

Simon Sinek has written an intriguing book, Start With Why - How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to ActionAs I pondered some of his discoveries, they led to a few of my own. Over the course of the last few years my life passion has been to help leaders serve well and finish well through soul enriching relationships. The results from the forty plus retreats I’ve led have been nothing less than transformational. Yet, it’s still a challenge for most pastors to agree to engage in a three year soul care journey. No one ever says they don’t need it to thrive; they just don’t need it to survive right now.

Most leaders are lousy at self-leadership and soul care. Most simply want to survive until Sunday and then survive eventually to the finish line. Well, that doesn’t sound like the abundant life that our Lord has promised. His call to us all is to experience wellness of soul. The call isn’t merely to survive so we can eventually crawl across the finish line of ministry. Soul care is about thriving.

How are you seeking to finish well? I just came across some conference notes from thirty years ago. At this conference a well known pastor said that he feared ending up in the “DNF” (Did Not Finish) category. Well, fast forward three decades and we now know that his fear was fulfilled in a most shameful way. He didn’t just stumble on the last lap; he collapsed morally, without any public apology to this day.

No one wants to finish half-heartedly, much less shamefully. So, who and what are key to your personal “well being” plan that will help you to thrive well to the end?

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