Low-grade fever can make you sluggish, distracted, tired, and . Not completely. Just 10-20% more sluggish, distracted, tired, irritable. You notice it’s there, but you don’t take it seriously because you figure popping some Echinacea or a good night’s sleep will take care of it. Sometimes it does. Often it doesn’t.
Sometimes a low-grade fever is the early sign of something serious. It says you are fighting something that is threatening your overall health. In ministry, low-grade fevers often go ignored because ministers often fancy themselves as fighters. Furthermore, we are used to proximity to pain. So, sometimes, it’s hard to tell where the pain of others and our own begins. It’s easy to mistake a hard day as the cause of the low-grade fever we have. In fact, that is sometimes all it is. However, left alone, these low-grade fevers can sap the joy and energy from our ministry. Left alone, these low-grade fevers can escalate to something far more serious.
Here are three low-grade fevers you may be running that are sapping your ministry. Not destroying it—sapping it of vitality.
Discouragement. Most ministers inhale a fair amount of criticism and witness a lot of failure—including their own. An important treatment for this is attempting to reduce the number of negative inputs into one’s life and increasing the number of positive inputs. Being more selective in who you spend your time with and what you feed your mind can make a huge difference over time. Every minister can benefit from breathing relatively clean emotional air. This doesn’t mean you wall yourself off from all pain or difficult people. It means if you are discouraged, you recognize it and take steps to make sure you remain emotionally healthy enough to bless those in pain.
Sin. Over time, Christian leaders can accommodate a fair amount of ” small ” sin because they are seeking to treat the discouragement. This low-grade fever visits those who use sin medicinally—and justify it morally though a sense of entitlement or perception they deserve based on all the good they do. Wow, is this dangerous! Sin as medicine is like handling anthrax without gloves. It can take over in no time, and you can find yourself in real trouble. Transparency with trusted friends can help. Even more helpful is preventative medicine: a vibrant walk with Christ and paying attention to one’s emotional health as well. Those who are healthy emotionally and spiritually will be less likely to rationalize, medicate, or dabble.
Pride. Most ministers I know are on the lookout for pride, but pride often finds it’s way in by staying small. It’s like dust. It accumulates and causes problems we cannot always see. Just like you can notice dust residue by your sneezing, you can often recognize pride by how often you view life through the prism of yourself–or how often you focus on aggrandizing your accomplishments. Sometimes, it’s not pride that causes one to do so…it’s discouragement or a lack of care for one’s emotional needs. Often, however, it’s just good ole’ pride. The antidote here is repentance before God and spending a serving in a humbling way. I remember a time many years ago when I sensed pride had accumulated in my heart. I repented and asked God to send a humbling path my way. He did. I spent the next season of ministry engaged in thankless service–but service that pleased God because it dusted my heart, so to speak. Every now and then, I still need a good dusting–and God always seems ready to oblige. As the Bible says, “Pride goes before a fall.” So, let’s mind the dust.
Pay attention to these low-grade fevers. Knock them out if you have them. I promise you’ll feel better and serve the Lord better. You’ll also keep them from growing into terminal sickness.
What other low-grade fevers have you or those you know run?