Leaders, as you prepare for ministry in 2014, I want to challenge you to consider guest blogger Sheila West’s wise words in this post. Many of us struggle with the issue of “spiritual stress fractures” as we seek to serve Christ faithfully. This is the perfect time to evaluate yourself and start new habits in leading and growing in Christ.

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“Still?!!!!!!” That was the only word that my voice blurted out to the doctor when he told me I had to keep the “boot” on my foot. A “boot” is a walking brace for foot injuries.  I had no idea when I had injured my foot but the MRI confirmed the diagnosis – stress fracture of the heel. According to medical terminology, stress fractures occur after an undue amount of exercise, an amount which an individual is not capable of coping with, comes to bear upon a person’s bones.

To my complaint, “I am so tired of dealing with the boot, the knee scooter and crutches.” He sweetly responded, “I only wish you hadn’t been superwoman and gotten tired of pushing through the pain sooner so that we could have avoided the stress fracture.”

I knew he was talking about my heel, but as I thought back through the conversation it spoke deeply to what I have come to believe are “stress fractures in life.”   Fractures in bones are painful. But they pale in comparison to the effects of trying to push through the excess pressures of daily life that can end up chronically affecting the way you live and the way you lead. At this point I had been trying to push through the tiredness to do the next thing that must be done; pushing through the weakness in my spiritual stamina caused from rushing through or by-passing my “rest in Him;” pushing through the aches of challenging relationships by trying to resolve them with my own reasoning; pushing through the fear of failing others and God as I tried to do it all, all at once.

Can you relate? If so, I want to pass along some good news: God’s Word gives us the needed preventative therapy. There is no need for stress fractures in life if we will stop pushing through the symptoms and do our part to take proper care of our spirit.

I’m just saying what a difference it makes to:

  1. Lower expectations. Consider where you hold yourself to unrealistic expectations, try to live up to others unrealistic expectations, or put pressure on others to live up to your unrealistic expectations. (1 Cor. 3:7)
  2. Keep the right perspective.  You cannot be all things to all people. Nor can you do all things for those that God has put in your daily agenda. We cannot let our need for peak performance, perfectionism or people pleasing be the driving force in our life.  (Col 3:23)
  3. Adjust the way you make choices. Talk to God before making choices and setting your agenda. Ask the question “What is most important to God, to me, and to those most affected by my choices?” This is where it is important to know yourself – your mindset about what you should do, your motives about why you do them, and the methods that you choose to use to follow through. (Gal. 5:13-26, MSG)
  4. Begin each day with a personal request to keep the right focus:  Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You. (Psalm 143:8, AMP)
  5. Practice Mini Moments with the Master. Throughout the day take Mini (small, but lots of them) moments where you pause to acknowledge His presence, ask His advice, give Him thanks, and take a deep breathe of peace, exhaling joy. (Ps. 16:11; Ps. 37:7; Prov. 16:1,3)

Be sure to read part 2 on January 8 for more practical suggestions on how to avoid stress fractures.

 

Sheila West 2012 outsideSheila has been involved in women’s ministry for over 25 years, serving as Director of Women’s Ministry for over 20 years in the local church. She is presently on staff at Heritage Community Church, Fruitland Park, Florida as Director of Spiritual Growth and Ministry Mobilization and Women’s Ministry Coordinator. She is the founder of Real Living Ministries, a speaking, teaching, and leadership development ministry to women. Sheila is also a contributing author of Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised and Expanded edition. Sheila has appeared on numerous Christian radio and television broadcasts, including The 700 Club, and 100 Huntley Street. She is the author of Beyond Chaos, published by NavPress and is a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She and her husband, John, are the parents of two and proud grandparents of seven. Follow her on Twitter @SheilaWestSez

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