Monday, November 4, 2013


Grab a cup of coffee and your bible and take some time to be encouraged by Greg Haswell, senior pastor at Northlands Church in Atlanta. What he shares is key for us adoptive and foster parents. Greg will be following up this post with some practical resources to help us as we make sure our input exceeds our output! 

My wife and I have been in vocational ministry for thirty years. In that time we have seen that the highest demand a ministry life makes on us is the constant withdrawal from our spiritual and emotional reserves. The spiritual withdrawal is because people need Jesus and He uses willing children to minister to them. In this ministry role we are continuously called on to have some spiritual fare to share with others. It is rewarding and exciting and filled with adventure, much like your adoption or fostering adventures. However, it is the amount and the constancy of the emotional withdrawals that originally caught us by surprise. Although we may be personally and emotionally vibrant, helping others through their turbulent or bruised emotions and circumstances costs us emotional capitol. 

Foster parents and parents of adoptees have signed up for a vital ministry, both before God and to their children, and thereby have connected themselves to constant withdrawal from their walk with God and their emotional wholeness.

Each one of us has an emotional and spiritual reserve that is both refilled or drained by the lives we lead. Imagine a bucket that has two spouts. One is an input valve which allows for it to be refilled, and one is a drain. People who minister to others need to pay attention to how they refill their emotional and spiritual buckets. Ensuring that we refill what is being drained is vital. 

If our output exceeds our input, we will empty our reserves, rendering ourselves of little help to others and in worst cases harmful to them. 

So in the series that follows, I want to take a moment to talk about this vital ministry of attending to our own well-being. Having a daily drain but only a weekly infilling (like attending a church service or a visit with a friend) is not ultimately sustainable. 

The personal resolution to refill our spiritual and emotional energies is not a luxury but a life sustaining necessity.

It is great to have events that refill our emptying bucket, but two weeks of vacation, as vital as they are, seldom make up for fifty weeks of stress. The key is to learn how to build in a constant trickle of what refills your spiritual and emotional reserves. Let me say again, attending to this very real need you have can only benefit those you minister to. 

David, who later became Israel’s King, discovered this truth for himself. Having led his men away from their homes, he comes back to discover their wives and children taken as slaves, their homes destroyed and all of their possessions stolen. It is a very low point for him and he is distraught and in  danger from his grieving men. Lets pick up the story in 1 Samuel 30:1-6.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

David somehow finds strength in the Lord his God. That phrase is tantalizing in its brevity and in its transformational scope. I wish it told us how he did that, because from then onwards everything changes and he goes on to rescue and reclaim all that was lost. Additionally, in some of his Psalms David claims to have found a great rest in God (Psalm 23:2, 62:1,5, Psalm 116:7)
How can we find courage, hope, wisdom, direction, comfort, peace, sustenance and strength in God? Where do we go to recharge our ebbing reserves? I’m not sure how David did it, but I can offer a few key practices we have discovered work for us. They also seem to work as fuel for many fellow ministers like you whose calling connects them to meaningful ministry that draws heavily on their reserves.They are not quick fix solutions, but are trustworthy, effective and deep reaching sources of hope and healing.

Check back here on Thursday as Greg helps us fuel up with a meditation on Psalm 40.

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