It took me several years to put into practice the idea that you can’t pour out what you don’t already have in you. In anything that requires significant relational and emotional energy, it is integral to have times where you are receiving instead of giving; where you can rest and regroup and refresh. From the Christian perspective, this goes even a step further. I can’t, on my own, manufacture the energy and patience and love to give to others. Those things have to come into my life first from God and then I can be equipped to go out and pour life and love onto others.
It’s dangerous in leadership to function any other way. Both for the leader and for the people who are following him.
This seems like common sense, right? It always has to me and I’ve tried and failed numerous times to intentionally structure my life and schedule so that I am not having to give when I’m empty. Eventually I got pretty decent at it, chalking up a victory for myself in the life/work flow of being in ministry.
And then, yesterday, on the bus to a Northwestern football game with my roommate Sarah, I realized my life is a bottomless bucket. I’ve been cheating the system.
Let me explain.
I know I need to be poured into. I need to receive and take time to be with God. This is what fuels me being able to go out. What comes out, however, should be overflow. I’m so full of what God is saying to me that life is literally splashing all over the place. Like this:
I instead feel like a tube of a bucket, giving out everything I’m receiving in a 1:1 ratio. It’s a doable way to do life (I’m surviving, I promise), but it’s not sustainable. And it’s not really life. There’s no energy or life or adventure or joy in that. I mean look:
We all need bottoms on our buckets. We need to figure out how to stop the pouring through, so our lives can pour over. Because that looks a lot more like the life I want to be living.
Maybe your bucket doesn’t have a bottom. How are you going to get one?
Maybe your bucket isn’t overflowing at all. It’s static or dry. How are you going to get it filled?
Personally, I’m ready to stop being a bottomless bucket.