Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Are You Experiencing Neck Pain In Your Ministry?

Three weeks of neck pain. I don't want to get into any comparison with anyone who has chronic pain that lasts for years. But three weeks of neck pain for me is not common. Three weeks of neck pain can cause some problems. 

First, there's the neck pain. For me, it means three weeks of telling my energetic children they can't jump on me and use me as a jungle-Rick. It's three weeks of turning my whole body to face people. And it started out as three weeks of guilt-free non-exercise. 

The joy of not practicing discipline in physical exercise lasted about four days. Then I found myself at a loss as to what to do with all this energy. Since my neck has been hurt I have been hungering for movement, for exercise, for the freedom to move. 

I was becoming accustomed to trying to find positions that would avoid pain as I lay around...like a lump. Yeah, the ego took a hit as the lack of exercise had other adverse effects. As Hollywood's Reese Witherspoon so intelligently pointed out in her smash hit Legally Blonde, "Exercising gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't kill people!"

I wasn't happy. 

This physical feeling is similar to how I feel about ministry. The neck has been wounded and we often are just situating ourselves to not be in pain. But some feel a sense if confinement at not being free, at not exercising our abilities, at not growing and moving. 

Here's how I dealt with the physical pain and how it translates to ministry.

1. Go see a doctor.
They have experience with this kind of thing. Sitting around hoping for the pain to go away, while not actually doing anything to make it go away, sounds like a definition of insanity. We often do this in ministry, opting to tell the physicians why their solutions won't work. 

2. Take the medicine.
Some of it has effects that I didn't like, the most politely advertised being the sleep-inducing coma. But until healing takes place, forward motion is not very productive or sustainable. This goes for ministry as well. Deal with the pain now and bring healing or find yourself dealing with it for years to come. 

3. Embrace the health.
I do have to admit that a life with less discipline, i.e. getting up early to exercise, was kind of nice. Yes, the cookies and the ice cream and the slices of pie were doing things to my body that I did not appreciate. I could remember exercising those effects away in the past. But I began to embrace the extra sleep, the extra time sitting around. But that is not healthy.

If we are to have health in ministry, we have to remember the benefits of what health can do. We have to kick the bad habits, which take less than three weeks to form. 

I have now been a few days past experiencing neck pain. I have even exercised a few times. Once I caught my breath, it felt good. I am enjoying the freedom of turning my neck to people calling, of playing with my kids. In ministry, we can enjoy the health of impacting people for good, of accomplishing mission goals and of bringing God glory. 

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