For nearly 15 years, I think I made the devil my mentor. Here’s how it happened.
When I was in college, I had a weekend youth ministry in Kansas City. Every Friday after finishing my classes in Manhattan, Kansas (the little apple), I would drive to KC to spend the weekend leading junior high and high school students. It was an amazing, challenging, rewarding, and exhausting season.
I can remember one Sunday evening standing in the little church kitchen and considering my drive back to school. It was 9pm, and I still had 2-3 hours of homework to complete for Monday classes. I also had several days of travel with the soccer team that coming week. I was feeling overwhelmed.
As I looked around the kitchen for some food to take back to college, I can remember saying out loud, “I don’t think I can do this anymore!”
How could I keep giving everything to:
- My studies
- These students in Kansas City
- My soccer team / scholarship requirements
- My fiancé (that’s another story)
How could I continue living this life of zero margin, where I lived in the future and skimmed in the now?
As I was considering these things, my senior pastor entered the kitchen and leaned up against the old pea-soup-green refrigerator. He asked how I was doing, and I let the dam burst. I told him everything that was on my mind, how I felt I was spreading myself thin, and giving no one the best version of myself.
And I can remember exactly what he said…
“Well Todd, the devil never takes a break.”
And I lived with that mantra of never taking a break in my mind for the next 15 years.
And you may be reading this right now saying, “Hello! I agree! That is true. Buck up, Todd. The devil never does take a break, so we can never take a break.”
And what is strange is, I agree.
The devil never seems to take a break.
The only problem with aligning our life with that truth is…
It makes the devil your mentor.
Listen friends, if you never say no to anyone and you try to care for everything, you will soon find you don’t care for anything.
We all know that we must steward our energy, time and even finances. But did you realize you must even steward your compassion? I know that sounds so strange, and almost anti-biblical. Don’t we have unlimited amounts of compassion? Doesn’t God give us energizer-bunny amounts so that we can indeed never take a break in ministry?
The answer is no.
You do not have an unlimited capacity to care.
Even Jesus did not have unlimited capacity to care. Even Jesus had to steward his compassion, right along with his energy and his time.
One of the strangest things I have learned in 25 years of ministry is that you must actually reserve some care and compassion for the people and things you love most.
If you make the devil your mentor you will justify “never stopping,” but you will end up “quitting.”
Knowing when to stop, rest, and replenish your reserves is actually the very thing that will keep you from quitting.
Stopping something is not the same as quitting something.
So leaders, if you have spent the last few years living at peace with a completely out of balance life and saying in some form or another, “Hey, the devil never takes a break.” If you have used that sentence as justification for almost any situation… my advice would be to realize what I realized.
It is true that the devil never takes a break.
But patterning your life after that truth makes the devil your mentor.