We recently offered staff Bible Studies as a way to connect and be in God’s Word. I chose the study Running on Empty by Fil Anderson. For me, it’s a classic. It came out around 2004 when I was knee-deep in ministry, and the book is a regular rotation read for me. The subtitle is Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers. Do you know any overachievers? Do you need to look any further than the mirror to find one? (I didn’t.)
This go around, I didn’t relate to the concept of “running on empty”— I was running on adrenaline! Ministry is compelling and exciting. What’s better than bringing the hope of Jesus to millions through the airwaves? There is a lot to do (especially during this season of COVID), and if I can make a difference, I’m all in. The most significant insight from this time of reading and studying was that I was still serving from a place of self and not a place of His strength. I was reliant and energized by achieving, problem-solving, and making a personal difference. In the book, Fil reminded me, “We know the Holy Spirit leads and guides every one of us, but not every one of us is listening and following.” I certainly wasn’t listening on a consistent basis. It’s a blurry line between leading in “His Strength” and my strength. The fulcrum was definitely leaning on my strength.
In September, I took a two-week, self-induced sabbatical. During this time, I made no plans and ensured no work interruptions (which required amazing support from my CEO and staff). It was not a vacation. It was time to rest and reconnect with Scripture and spiritual habits. It was a different kind of work. Here were some of my takeaways:
- Ministry is compelling, and the work can become addictive
- Ministry without spiritual disciplines is self-ministry, not God-ordained ministry
- Achievement without prayer pulls me away from spiritual alignment
- Faith should come with action; action doesn’t always come with faith
- I cared more about praise from people than being in alignment with Jesus
During my time away, I re-read the Gospel of John and spent time contemplating Scripture. A few verses stood out to me.
- “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus WILL shift from you to God, and you WILL begin to sense His grace.” Matthew 6:6 (MSG). When I slow down enough, God’s grace provides clarity
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do NOT rely on your own insights.” Proverbs 3:5 (RSV) As a driver, it’s hard for me to trust and not be in control. It’s hard for me to slow down, pray, and wait, but things become remarkably easier when I do.
- “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” Romans 12:2 (MSG) Realizing I live in a society filled with, self-reliance, stress, and desire for achievement and security – the reminder not to copy the world’s behavior and customs is always good for me.
- “..the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing…” John 5:19 (NRSV) It’s crucial for me to stay connected through prayer, solitude (listening), and Scripture to see what “the Father is doing.”
So back to my question. Where are you getting your fuel for ministry? Is the fuel light on? Maybe it’s time to fill your tank.
COO, K-LOVE & Air1
Janet Cherry is passionate about doing everything she can to help the exceptional leaders and creative, dedicated team members at K-LOVE and Air1 Radio thrive.
With a background in Human Resources, working with for-profit and non-profit organizations, she has held key Executive positions within HR and Operations.
Janet lives with her husband, Jeff, in Northern California. They have two grown sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and her favorite “child,” a dog named Bane.
Janet is currently Chief Operating Officer for K-LOVE & Air1 Radio.