Physical health is very important as is renewing our physical energy. However, just as important is what is happening in our inner world. Unfortunately, this is often one of the most neglected areas of our lives.
Our SOUL is made up of our MIND (our thoughts), our WILL (our decisions) and our EMOTIONS (our feelings). Generally speaking, most people don’t invest time in the health of their soul. Our ‘emotional gauges’ are often the ones we least observe. Those with leadership responsibility are often the ones who are most vulnerable, because they can become so busy looking after others that they neglect their own “soul care.”
How do we increase our emotional energy? There are many things. Let’s look at a few of the most important.
a. Deal with your internal stress.
Every one of us faces certain external stresses unique to our own life. For those of us in who work in a church environment, the work is never done, there are no boundaries, success creates more pressure, not everyone likes you, and sometimes you face the pressures of high visibility. But of greater danger is what we could call "internal stress." Internal stress comes from unrealistic expectations (about God, other people and ourselves, often resulting in disappointment), unresolved offences and negative emotions.
Do you best, with God's help to keep your internal stress as low as possible so you have all the energy you need to keep up with the demands of life, that are often beyond your control. Resolve conflicts as quickly as possible. Confront problems and issues – they usually don’t goo away; in fact, they get bigger. Renew your mind - often it's not what's happening to us that is the major issue but what we are thinking about it. Talk with someone – a safe person who can assist you to process what is happening in your inner world (James 5:16).
b. Take time for rest and recreation.
Jesus set limits and arranged for times of rest (Mark 6:30-33). God didn’t design us to work constantly without rest. God worked for six days and then rested on the seventh. The Sabbath was established in Old Testament times for rest and relaxation from the busyness of the week’s work. Although, we don’t keep a literal Sabbath Day under the New Covenant, the principle of taking regular time for rest and recreation is still as true today as it was back then.
Human energy expert, Tony Schwartz says, “We’re not meant to operate in the same way machines to: at high speeds, for long periods of time, running multiple programs at the same time. Human beings are designed to pulse between the expenditure and the intermittent renewal of energy.”
Recreation includes engaging in enjoyable activities. Have a few hobbies and interests that are enjoyable to participate in. Doing things other than and separate from your work or ministry is healthy. Do something that is pleasurable and satisfying that is different than your normal routine or your source of stress. Alternate between periods of activity with periods of rest. Doing so helps to renew your energy.
c. Enjoy your family and friends.
God created for us for community – for meaningful relationships. When Jesus came to earth he spent hours with a small group of people, his disciples, who he called his ‘friends’ – walking on along the road, rowing a boat, eating a meal.
Life is all about relationships (“people”) not tasks (“things”). Your family is very important to God. Love your family and develop warmth and intimacy with them. The home is to be a place of love, emotional warmth, and enjoyment. Friends are also a valuable gift from God. Don’t isolate yourself. When you’re stressed, you need your relationships more, not less. What a joy it is to spend time with ‘emotional replenishing people’ – those who pour back into us rather than draining us. Spend time with people you enjoy being around. Learn to have fun, to recreate, to enjoy life and to laugh. The more you enjoy life the healthier you tend to be. The Bible says that a “cheerful heart” is like a good medicine (Prov.17:22).
Next up we'll look at renewing our Spiritual Energy.