Yesterday my assistant was telling me all about a message she had heard where the pastor used a phrase that stuck to her like glue - mechanical indifference. It's when we just go through the motions in our worship, in our devotions, in our church activity, and more. It's passive engagement. It's autopilot. It's walking dead.
And as leaders, it can happen to us. We can become so familiar with the routine of our lives and especially our Sundays that we can go on autopilot and move seamlessly through the motions.
Mechanical Indifference happens when we fail to refresh ourselves and come into our Sundays fueled up and ready to be there. Sure you're going to have rough mornings where nothing goes right (like this Sunday where I set up my Keurig to make coffee only to forget to brew it). But when mechanical indifference sets in all we're doing is performing rituals, not pointing people to life.
How can we avoid mechanical indifference?
1. Rest - You're not Superman. So don't try to be. Your body needs rest. Your mind needs rest. Your soul needs rest. Sunday worship is a Saturday decision. Get to bed earlier than you normally would. Stay hydrated. Try to rest before launching on Sunday.
2. Pray - Public ministry is only as strong as your private prayer life. Without that, you'll coast and go on adrenaline until eventually you crash. That's why in my book Start Well I dedicated a whole chapter to your own personal spiritual growth. It's that important because it's the fuel for your entire ministry and leadership.
3. Pause - Sometimes the best thing we can do on Sunday is take 5-10 minutes in the morning, pause and reflect on our day, and put off whatever baggage or stress or exhaustion we brought that morning.
4. Worship - I get it. When everyone else is singing, I'm often thinking about my message, trying to remember my introduction, taking glances at my notes, and more. And those messages stink. Because there hasn't been a time where I've sat back and engaged in worship. You need corporate worship as a pastor just as much as anyone else does. So sing, pray, and worship freely.
5. Crash - There are few things as deeply satisfying as the down time on a Sunday afternoon (especially during a thunderstorm) after a long fruitful morning of ministry. And whether I'm on the couch or "resting my eyes" in a recliner, that crash is as much food for my soul as breakfast was that morning. I can tell a difference in my Monday-Friday when I've had time to crash after Sunday.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.