The Strategic Air Command—our nation's defense system—operates 24 hours a day as a shield of protection for our nation. This means that at any point in a given day there are airplanes carrying nuclear warheads in the air over our country.

If these planes fly constantly, how do they keep them full of gas? In the military, they do what's called mid-flight refueling. A re-fueling plane actually flies up next to the Strategic Air Command plane, docks in, and fills the plane with gas.

As a pastor, you need to learn how to refuel your life in mid-flight. You can't just hop off to Tahiti every time you get tired and discouraged. You have to keep going. You have to learn how to recharge yourself in the middle of your hectic lifestyle.

The fact is, it takes energy to do God's will. What do you do when you run out of energy? Psalm 94:19 (LB) says, "Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer."

Are you ever quiet? Americans are afraid of silence. It makes us very uncomfortable. The moment you get in your car, the radio goes on. The moment you get home, the TV goes on. The truth is, very little of your life is honestly quiet.

God says, "If you want to lower your stress, it's as simple as this: shut up. Be silent. Stop talking and start listening."

I suggest that once a day, you should go out in your backyard, sit down, and just be quiet. I'm not talking about reading your Bible. You ought to read your Bible every day. I'm just talking about getting alone for five minutes a day and being completely silent. Ask God a question, and then just sit there and listen.

Sometimes we say, "God, I really need your guidance on this," and then we get up and walk off. We don't wait for an answer. The reason you never hear from God is you never listen.

Dump It In The Worry Jug
On days when I'm really stressed out from problems and needs and crises, I go home knowing that when I walk through my front door I'll be greeting a wife and three kids who also have problems and issues and who also need me.

Often when I've had my most hectic day I will walk up to the front door and not go in. I'll just stand there for a minute, before anyone knows I'm home, and take a few deep breaths. I'll stand there and decompress for a minute.

We used to have this big old milk container that sat outside the front door and I used to call it my worry jug. I'd stand there and imagine putting all my worries in the jug so I wouldn't take them into the house with me.

Learn to take little mini breaks during the day. When you feel your pressure rising just stop and say, "God, I want to tune in on you again. I want to focus in on you." I'm not suggesting 30 minutes of meditation. I'm talking about 15 or 20 seconds. Just little mini breaks where you stop and be quiet.

Why is this important? Because the race of life is tough. Inevitably it's tough to live God's plan for your life. You start getting distracted. You start having discouragement. You start to doubt. And you start wondering, "Maybe this idea of trying to live for God is a bad idea. Maybe I should just coast for the next couple of months."

When you coast, you start heading downhill. You go the wrong way.

Discouragement leads to doubt. How do you defeat doubt? You remember three things:
  1. I remind myself of God's goodness yesterday.
    I make a list of all the things he's done in my life, and I just start being thankful. The attitude of gratitude is the healthiest emotion that you can have.
  2. I remember God's presence today.
    I remind myself that he's with me right now. I'm not alone. Even when I feel like I'm completely alone, I'm not.

    I've just forgotten that he's there with me. He says, "I'm here. I'm going to help you. I've promised I'll never leave you or forsake you. I'm with you right now in this crisis."
  3. I remind myself of God's promises for tomorrow.
    There are more than 7000 promises for us in the Bible. Each one is like a blank check that I can write out: "God, I claiming this one today. I'm turning in this coupon." He has said, "I will give you strength. I will give you the necessary tools to accomplish the task I've given you. I will give you the wisdom you need in this situation if you'll just call on Me."

    God's goodness yesterday, God's presence today, God's promises tomorrow. I don't need to doubt. I don't need to be discouraged. I don't need to be distracted. I can renew myself daily.
If you want to last over the long haul of ministry, you have to learn how to recharge yourself spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.

Second Corinthians 4:16 (TEV) says, "For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day." That means daily.

You need to figure out what renews you. Make a list of the things that keep you going, the things that re-energize you. Then do those things over and over.

Here's an easy formula to remember: Divert daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually. Know what relaxes you and what recharges you spiritually, physically, mentally—and do it.

This article is used by permission from
Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox by Rick Warren.
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