The next area I want to talk about is Energizing; what things can we do to optimize our energy and what are the scriptural principles we need to apply? He knows our days and frame. As I noted in my overview I want to look at how we use the energy and ability He has given us and I also want to address practical strategies to manage our energy.
In managing our energy there are some obvious areas to reflect on; rest, nutrition and exercise. They are important but I think we need to also contextualize them and use reflection to consider what we need to do within our personal makeup, the way in which He has uniquely formed us (Ps. 139:15-16). For example, there is a lot of information available on nutrition, rest and exercise. If I apply reflection to my own life I can tell you that I generally eat healthy with some ‘junk food’ and at times too much food. I also know that I often don’t get enough sleep and exercise more than the average individual.
Awareness of these things help me to manage my physical and emotional energy. Yet, when I think about my average workday how do I manage my energy there? I have a rather demanding job. To offset extended sitting I have a sit/stand desk and spend the majority of my time at my desk standing up. However, I recognize that sometimes I need to sit to really concentrate and edit something. I also work in an office with a glass door and wall that I look out of, think ‘fishbowl,’ and recognize that I don’t concentrate well in that type of environment. For some projects I need to seek out a secluded space.
These are practical things and to lead my own life well or to lead others well I need to be skilled at managing my energy. That means knowing what gives me energy and what things drain my energy. My chart below provides some examples.
|Things that energize||Things that drain|
|Meaningful conversations||Long meetings|
|Taking a break and going for a walk/getting fresh air||Large crowds where I do not have a clear purpose|
|Getting to work early and preparing for my day before others arrive||Moving from task to task or meeting to meeting with no time to refresh or reflect|
|Pausing and changing tasks to refocus (the old adage “A change is as good as a rest.’||Spending extended time on challenging task with no clear end in sight.|
My list is illustrative rather than exhaustive. I also know that I tend to introversion rather than extroversion. I am drained by casual conversations in large groups while extroverts tend to be energized and stimulated by busy crowds. I love to teach but my motivation is not being at the front or being in control, rather I have a sense of excitement when I see that people are learning and benefitting.
So why share all of this since you may be different? I share it as an example to illustrate the need to reflect on the things we individually need to do to manage our own energy to serve His kingdom.
What are some examples in scripture? I think Paul and Peter were extroverts. We see in the gospels that Peter always spoke up, rebuked Jesus when He spoke of going to the cross, and boldly preached on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). He often acted without thinking things through. Paul was also a bold man of action, he immediately began to preach the truth he so strenuously fought against as soon as he was converted. Yet Paul was also one of the great thinkers and intellects of history, very different from Peter in that regard. Yet they both had to learn how to manage their energy to be effective in Jesus service. Paul for example said,
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
Paul learned how to lean into Jesus. What did Jesus do?
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35 (NKJV) 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 (NKJV) 18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Matthew 8:18 (NKJV) 12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Luke 6:12-13 (NKJV)
Jesus recognized the need to manage His own physical energy and the need for His followers to manage their energy so they could continue to minister to others and His own habits were twofold. He started His days early in prayer seeking direction from His Father and prayer for direction was a pattern in His earthly ministry. He also often got away from the crowds and there are many examples of that in the NT.
So what do we need to do? We first need to imitate Paul and learn to lean into Jesus. Next we need to reflect on our lives to determine what we need to do to best manage our own energy to serve His kingdom. Lastly, we need to heed the advice of James in our leadership of self and others.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NKJV)