I learned some time ago that most of the actual benefit in weight-lifting happens when the body reaches the “burn point.” It’s once our body begins to feel the pain that real exercise has begun. Sadly, some quit lifting when the burn begins because…well…it hurts. Thus, they miss out on most of the benefit of the lift. They are plenty busy going to the gym and lifting until the pain begins. But, they realize far fewer benefits than those who actually push themselves a bit. They feel less pain in return for lesser results.

That is the journey of many a church, as well.

I’ve done the same on occasion in ministry. I bet you have, too.

  • You come up with an idea for a series, but settle for concept that could have been great but was instead OK…simply because the burn of thinking and the futility of firing creative blanks set in.
  • You don’t make a much-needed change because the tension created is not something you’re ready to bear.
  • You settle for a run-of-the-mill service project that could have been so much more, simply because we felt it we needed to do it. But, you didn’t really give it the energy you could have–so it was OK.
  • You settle for the mediocre sermon illustration because it’ll get the job done, but also because you didn’t want to wait on God for homiletical manna or do the digging required to really drive the point home.

One cannot live in the burn. There must be rest between sets and recovery time. In life, there must be Sabbath. In ministry, there must be rhythm. But, what is true in fitness is true in ministry–much of the best awaits us when we push that bit extra.

Some think great churches are simply lucky or slicker or have some random “it” factor. Usually, they lift when everyone else has stopped. There is a reason Scripture conveys ministry as working in God’s vineyard. It is work, when it’s done right. It is glorious, worthwhile work, but it’s burn-inducing service.

On this Monday morning, I know many of us are tired and a nudge toward fighting through ministry burn isn’t what we’re wanting to hear. Yet, I’m also going to bet most of us would gladly do some heavier lifting if we thought it would actually benefit our churches.

By all means rest this Monday. You are between sets. But, tomorrow we lift 😉