I tell church planters all the time that they will likely run at an unsustainable pace. I hear all kinds of leaders within the church talk about things like margin, Sabbath, vacations, rest, retreats, eight-hour days, five-day weeks, date nights, family nights, and all kinds of ways to ensure you as a planter maintain health. That’s cool, but have these people ever met a church planter… or an entrepreneur for that matter.
Every now and then I hear about a planter who seemed to be able to start with a clear and healthy set of boundaries. Rumor has it Andy Stanley started his church with the pace thing figured out. I just know that I didn’t.
The first year, I didn’t take a day off. I didn’t work less than ten hours a day. I really didn’t know how to shut it off. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. More times than I am comfortable confessing, I went to sleep with the laptop open. Often, I would wake up several times a night to only pick it up and begin working again. I had breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, evening meetings, and then would often work late into the night.
Somewhere along the way all planters have to come to a conviction that God loves His church more than they possibly can. I imagine that some come to their plant with both the conviction and the will to live consistently and consequently healthfully because of that conviction. It just seems that most of the planters I know didn’t really start with that conviction. But, alas, it is called an unsustainable pace for a reason. It really isn’t all that bright to burn the candle at both ends.
Over the long haul, I don’t want to be just another statistic. I don’t want to be one of the planters who started well only to flame out, burn out or just become useless. I began to do discover that I was letting far too many needs go unmet. I had violated my needs for healthy sleep (eight hours), days off, recreations, and time with the family. I started doing a better job of building margin back into my life.
If you are a planter, decide to trust God. Take time off, rest, vacation, date your spouse, play with your kids and craft a life.