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You see, my emotional battery is on negative.
Let me give you my recent energy-suckers: I’ve
directed three weekend retreats and one board of
directors meeting in the last month. Today, besides
the normal workload, I’ve dealt with one suicidal
teenager, one guy who’s decided to move toward
the gay lifestyle, and one really, really ticked
mother.

So what do you do during those super-depleted
and empty times?

  • Give yourself permission to take a break—
    without guilt. Granted, I haven’t ditched my own
    youth service in years. But tonight that’s exactly
    what I’m doing. Remember, no one can put you on a
    guilt trip unless you buy the ticket.
  • Turn off your cell phone and computer. (I’ll
    turn mine off right after I meet my deadline for this
    column.) There’s a reason those devices have power
    buttons. Take control of the one million worlds that
    keep demanding another piece of you.
  • Do something that’s relaxing, fun, and/or
    renewing for you. If I gave in to my guilt, I’d justify
    my decision to skip the youth service by plunging
    into a little serious Bible study tonight. Nope. I’m
    washing my hair, eating an ice cream bar, and
    watching FOX News! Even a couple of hours of
    downtime can make all the difference in the world.
    Keep your mouth shut and make no major
    decisions. When I’m emotionally depleted, I can
    easily overreact and make stupid decisions—like
    telling that angry mom I dealt with today what I
    really think of her parenting skills! Just remember
    that you regret very few words that you don’t say.
  • Most of all, I’m telling myself, This, too, shall
    pass. Your emotions are like the battery on your car:
    You can jump-start them sometimes, but there’s also
    a point where you need to stop the motion and let
    yourself recharge.

    So while my youth leaders are running the
    service, I’m about to watch TV. Wow…that sounds
    pretty awful. I’m sure Jesus will understand, though,
    especially if I offer him an ice cream bar.

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