The woefully weary minister reluctantly met with his doctor. Guessing the doctor’s diagnosis, his ears began shutting down. Never mind his heart had shut down months before…
“Wayne, are you listening, buddy?”
An almost undetectable nod followed.
“This is in your best interest. Best interest for your church. Best interest for you and your health. Best interest for your marriage. Your church, can survive without you for a few months.”
“But who will take my place? Who else knows how to run our church like me? Who cares as much as I do?” The all-about-me questions spewed forth like rain.
Doc answered sharply, “If you want to avoid a nervous breakdown, and you are very close to it right now, you must take a season to refill and recharge. A sabbatical is no longer a suggestion. This is mandatory.”
Wayne soon found himself registered for a retreat at a monastery. As he drove up the long, winding hill, two and a half hours in the middle of nowhere, doubts hovered. He forced himself to park his car.
He walked into the entryway. Discovering several monks, he asked them where to register. Funny, they didn’t answer him. They didn’t talk at all. Not one word. One monk pointed to paper, the other to a map. No talking.
Once in his cabin, Wayne also realized there were no phones, no TV, no wifi…Therefore, no checking email, no receiving texts, no voicemail, etc. Only silence.
The monks did make some noise twice a day: At five o’clock in the morning, they could be heard in the Chapel, singing psalms in Gregorian chants. At five o’clock in the evening, they could be heard singing vespers.
The only time they used their voices, they were praising the Lord. (Think about that for a minute…That very point stopped me cold.)
Day, after painful day while in the monastery, time crawled. Worse: No caffeine could be found anywhere. By day three, Wayne’s eyes had been opened, but the pain was almost unbearable.
He was beginning to hear from God. God was giving him a message. And he was slowly writing it down.
Yet, discontentment still gnawed at Wayne’s soul. “If only I could escape, just for a few minutes…I’ve had enough of this place!” he told himself.
Realizing the monks would be distracted while singing, Wayne made his escape during their praise time. He jumped in his car, and quickly drove to an internet café. Ordering the biggest cup of coffee they had (!), he fired up his laptop, and placed a call to a friend.
Whispering, he informed his friend, “I’ve just escaped from the monastery!”
Can you imagine receiving such a phone call? Can you hear God chuckling over Wayne’s efforts?
Yes, God saw Wayne escape from that monastery. And in His faithfulness, He softened Wayne’s heart, and taught him some lessons, we too, can learn.
After loading up on some of “the world” at the internet café, Wayne did in fact return to the monastery. He finished out the week and savored the quiet. Savored the sabbatical. Studied God’s Word. Filled legal pads.
My husband, John, and I were blessed to hear Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, from New Hope Church in Hawaii (www.enewhope.org ), speak at the North American Christian Convention (NACC) a couple of weeks ago. We could not take notes fast enough. Very engaging, (the escape story was shared during his workshop) Wayne taught us how to care for our souls.
Wayne confessed to enduring “profound burnout, to the point of clinical depression.” Years prior, he’d started a church which led to numerous church plants. He wrote book, after book, after book. He helped start a Bible college. He had a leadership role in every single endeavor he’d begun, squelching any ounce of free time.
He drew a huge picture of a cup. Its’ contents were nearly at the top. His point was, “We must be intentional about what fills our cup and what drains our cup.”
“If you keep draining your cup, physical consequences will take their toll on your body”: an anxiety breakdown leads to an emotional breakdown which can lead to a full-blown nervous breakdown.
Wayne continued: “Worse, these breakdowns eat up margin in our schedules.” (Click here for more on Margins. If you want to read more from this 4-part series, click: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4) One thing Wayne learned to do is before he ever writes down an event or commitment on his calendar, he builds in the rests first. MARGIN…White space in your calendar, rest notes in music, room to breathe…
He reminded us that God will hold us accountable for what He’s gifted us specifically to do. It equates to five percent of your life. He said that eighty-five percent of what you do, anybody can do. Ten percent of what you can do, someone can do with some training.
This leaves five percent of what you, and only you can do. Therefore, concentrate on the last five percent. This is where the health of your soul is. Don’t miss what God has for you.
Wayne shared several lessons he learned from his week at the monastery. (You can hear him, or see him, depending on your preference, by going to www.catapes.com. Christian Audio Tapes is the company who made cd’s and DVD’s from the NACC.) I’ll share three of these with you.
First was the five percent lesson. Wayne added an exercise for us to do, suggesting we do this with our spouses. (It can have positive results for your marriage as well.) Make a list of what fills your cup and what drains your cup.
His examples of what fills his cup are: water sports on the ocean, reading, riding horses, riding his motorcycle, and Bible study. (Let’s hope the Bible study comes before the motorcycle riding. I’m just sayin’…) Filling vs. draining equals your passions vs. your “I-dread-this” list…
John and I had a hey day with this little exercise. The next morning he scooped up our perpetual-puppy, Gracie, and said, “Gracie FILLS my cup!” To which I retorted, “Wonderful! Gracie DRAINS my cup!” Get the picture from that very bad example?!!!
Remember John Piper telling us we can’t be gloomy and glorify God at the same time? See…”God is on the Golf Course…” Same idea.
My favorite lesson Wayne taught us is: Refuel daily. Be disciplined in your devotions and Bible study/reading.
He added, “By diligent daily reading, you get to know the characters in the Bible. There’s not one scenario you’re going thru’ or will go thru’ that one of the characters in the Bible hasn’t gone thru’ already.” They’ll become your friends, divine mentors, if you will.
They leave you “crumbs” to find which are the key to your sanity. Wayne built this case beautifully and ended it with: “If you never visit them (the characters in the Bible), how can they possibly help you?” (Go to: www.lifejournal.cc for help with daily devotions.)
Hebrews 4:12 reinforces this point: “But the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Finally, Wayne cited the second chapter of Mark, where Jesus heals the paralyzed man. He pointed out that the man had four friends to take him to Jesus. Carol Kent calls these “stretcher bearers” and expounds on this concept in her compelling book, When I Lay My Isaac Down.
Wayne implored, “We must have friends who will take us to Jesus.” Friends who’ll take us out of harmful situations and place us in safe respites. “No matter how sick you are, figuratively or literally, you must have friends who will care for you. Close friends recognize your needs.”
Don’t “go it alone”…because God sees you, whether you’re escaping from a monastery (!), or just about your daily to-do’s.
Psalm 73:23 is a good reminder: And, “yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”
‘Til next time!
(This week’s post is dedicated to Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. What a bummer to “have to” minister in Hawaii! Kidding…Thanks for coming to Louisville and teaching us from your heart. Thrilled you discovered fried green tomatoes!!! Your honesty and lessons you learned during the hard times are pure pearls for us to live by. Blessings to you and your family and your ministry!)