My friends and mentors Shawn Lovejoy and David Putman speak often of “nurturing vitality.” This is one of the “best practices” of ministry that they teach and model. For what it’s worth, it is a “best practice” of a healthy life no matter what your profession may be.
I am nurturing vitality this week by spending early mornings with God, all day on the beach with my family, and the evenings alone with my bride. I will come back a stronger man, better prepared to tackle the next phase of life, ministry and leadership.
I want to flesh out “nurture vitality” a little bit.
Nurture: (definition taken from www.dictionary.com)
1. to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring.
2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians.
3. to bring up; train; educate.
Vitality: (definition taken from www.dictionary.com)
1. exuberant physical strength or mental vigor: a person of great vitality.
2. capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence: the vitality of an institution.
3. power to live or grow: the vitality of a language.
4. vital force or principle
Here’s the thing about “nurturing vitality”, no one can do it better for you than you, and no one is likely to do it for you but you. In other words, you are the best and only person to nurture your vitality.
The best gift you have to give anyone is you, and if you is beaten up and worn down you won’t be very helpful… in fact you may actually be a drain on those around you.
I once heard Bill Hybels say, “The best gift I can give to those I lead is a well rested, fully surrendered self.” I believe that he is right. Your time, your wisdom, your strength, your leadership, your passion, your honesty, your love… you. These are the gifts that change lives and make the world a better place and they can only come from an individual who is alive and full… someone who has nurtured their own vitality.
A few thoughts about nurturing vitality:
- It has to happen regularly. (daily = small blocks of time; annually = large blocks of time)
- It won’t happen by accident or spontaneously. You must plan to do it… and then do it.
- It is not easy to stop working. You will feel like a slacker and want to postpone your “nurture vitality time.” Don’t do it. (By the way, going into this week of vacation I did not want to stop. There is much to do and I was hesitant to get off the radar for a week).
- For me, time off always clarifies priorities and refreshes my energy for the important things.
You know that your kids are watching and even imitating you. You know that the people you are leading (in your work environment, home environment, church environment, etc.) are watching and determining whether or not to follow and/or even model themselves after you.
The question you and I must ask ourselves is, “Is who/what I am right now worth reproducing?” In other words, do I want my kids to be like me? Do I want the people I lead to be like me?
If not, then you’d better get away and nurture some vitality so that who you are and what you are doing is worthy of imitation.
Alrighty… it’s time to go watch a movie and then put my toes in the water!