Happy New Year. I love the rush of setting new goals and starting fresh, and I hope 2019 is your best year of leadership yet.
I was reading 1 Kings 19 last week, you know the story, Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal, and Jezebel threatens to kill him. As I read it, I thought about being a healthier leader in 2019. I can’t promise your ministry will grow this year, but I can promise that you can grow. The best thing you can do for your family and church is lead with a healthy heart. The results will take care of themselves. I talk more about focusing on health instead of results in Toxic Soul: A Pastor’s Guide To Leading Without Losing Heart.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was freaking out, burnt out, depressed and anxious, and God uses 5 things to get him healthy. I believe these 5 things are the same things you and I need in 2019 to lead healthy. Let me give them to you.
If you would rather listen to this on the podcast than read it, click here.
“Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree…” (v. 5)
It doesn’t sound spiritual, but the first thing God used to get Elijah healthy wasn’t a sermon, a book, a conference or an altar call, it was a nap. I can almost guarantee you need more sleep more than you need more meetings, sermon prep, bible study, or church services. Sleep more in 2019.
2. Good Food
“But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” (v. 5)
Good food is relative, but specifically I mean food that is nourishing. What you put in your body affects how you feel, think, and act. The food Elijah ate gave him the strength to travel 40 days. Is the food you’re eating giving you strength or making you more tired? You carry spiritual weight better with less physical weight… that’s a fact.
3. More Sleep/Rest
“So he ate and drank and lay down again.” (v. 6)
Sleeping is so essential to our health that God gave Elijah back to back naps. Are you getting the point yet? Research shows that people who get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep are twice as likely to solve puzzles and problems as those who don’t. Our brains actually create new neural connections while we sleep. Go figure!
4. Experiences with God
“And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v. 12-13)
If all you do is rest and eat more healthy, you will feel better, but that’s not enough to be a healthy spiritual leader. Spiritual leaders need fresh spiritual experiences; times where you hear the gentle whisper of God’s voice. Truthfully you probably don’t need more revival services, conferences, earthquakes, winds and fires, you need to hear God’s voice.
“So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field.” (v. 19)
Elisha told God he was done, but God told Elijah he wasn’t done until he invested in the next generation of leadership. Elisha gave Elijah a second wind. Friendship is a must in ministry. Find people who give you a second wind, make you laugh, encourage you, and cheer you on.
These are the 5 things God did for Elijah to get him healthy, and I believe these same 5 habits will help us lead healthy in 2019: Rest, Good Food, More Rest, Experiences with God, and Friendship.