On Monday, June 19th I have the privilege of speaking to approximately 100 church facility managers at the annual conference of the National Association Of Church Facility Managers (NACFM). This growing organization represents one of the most under-appreciated and under-funded group of church leaders in America.
The following are daily realities of today’s church’s facility managers:
- They work on average 50-55 hours per week.
- They arrive at church on Sunday by 6:00 am to check the mechanical, heating, A/C, drainage, cleanliness, baptism water temperature and any other unexpected item which arises.
- They listen to all complaints.
- On Sunday they work for a church. In essence, they then work for a de facto conference and wedding center Monday through Saturday.
- They rarely get a Saturday off.
- Life consists of three things – Clean Up, Set Up, and Repair.
- The price of being a Facility Manager at a local church is the loss of community. They have to guard themselves spiritually because they rarely get to attend a service, Sunday School, or small groups.
- Because of low compensation, employee turnover is a constant.
- There is never enough time.
- There are few benefits.
- And worse, many in church staff or senior leadership view them as “The Help”.
- Rarely does an invitation to the executive Christmas party ever come.
- Their opinion is rarely asked for.
- Success is when no one knows they were even there.
Because of this culture, burn out is a constant companion. My goal during my first session is to encourage this group and provide a biblical framework to their burnout. For help, I turned to the Bible’s most famous burn out story – I Kings 18 and 19, the story of Elijah after the victory at Mount Carmel.
The following are 10 phases of burn out for church Facility Managers I discovered in this text:
You Receive A Great Calling With Great Opportunity
- You Face A Great Challenge Every Sunday – 1 Kings 18:19 – 450 prophets of Baal, 400 prophets of Asherah ate at Jezebel’s table.
- Your Work Results In People Getting Saved – v.21 – “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him.”
You Soon Discover There Will Be Great Struggles
- There Is Little Recognition – v.21 – “But the people answered him not a word.”
- There Is Little Support – v.22 – “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord.”
- There Can Be Emotional Responses – v. 27 – “Elijah mocked them”
- There Is Always Something To Clean Up, Set Up, Or Repair – v.30-31 – “And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.”
With God’s Help You Experience Great Victories
- Your Greatest Weapon Is Not Your Technical Skill But Your Memory – v.32 – “And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes and the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.'”
- You Must Make Time To Worship – v.36 – “at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel”
- You Must Remain Totally Surrendered To Jesus – v. 36 – “let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and I have all these things at Your word.”
- God Will Accomplish Great Things Through Your Life And Ministry – v. 38 – “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.”
- God Uses You To Point People To Jesus – v. 39 – “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!'”
But There Are Also Great Failures
- You Must Respond To Constant Crisis – v.40 – “And Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Ball!'” and v. 45 – “the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain.”
- Effective Ministry Always Faces Opposition – v19:2 – “Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do the me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one them by tomorrow at this time.”
- Avoid An Emotional Response – v.3 – “he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba”
- Lean Into People And God Rather Than Defaulting To Isolation – v.3 – “left his servant there.”
- You Want To Quit – v.4 – “It is enough!”
- You Feel Sorry For Yourself – v.4 – “Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
- You Are Exhausted – v.5 – “Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree”
God Then Meets Your Need With Great Provision
- God Is Always With You – v.5 – “suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him”
- You Have All The Resources You Need – v.6 – “Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water.”
- You Don’t Get Past Burnout. You Get Through It. – v.7 – “And the angel of the Lord came back the second time”
- There Is Not An Instant Cure – v. 8 – “So he arose, and ate and drank: and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights”
You Still Face Great Uncertainty
- You Cannot Forget What You Are Doing Is Less Important Than Why You Are Doing It – v.10 – “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts”
- You Start Blaming Others – v. 10 – “for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword.”
- You Feel Isolated And Vulnerable – v.10 – “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
You Get A Great Word From A Great God
- You Need To Hear A Fresh Word From God – v.11-13 – “but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it”
God Gives You A Great Plan
- Get Back To Work! God Is Not Done With You Yet! – v. 15 – “Then the Lord said to him. ‘Go, return your way to the Wilderness of Damascus”
- Build A Leadership Team – v.15-16 – “anoint Hazel as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel.”
- Find Your Substitute And Replacement – v.16 – “And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”
- Cross Train And Build Depth – v.17 – “It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazel, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.”
- Build A Network Of Associates Outside Of Your Church – v.18 – “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
You Then Have Great Impact
- You Will Then Become A Mentor To Others – 2 Kings 2:9 – “Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask! What may I do for you before I am taken away from you?’ Elisha said, ‘Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.'”
And You Ultimately Leave A Great Legacy
- You Will Leave A Great Leadership Legacy – v. 13 – “He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him.”
Where are you at in this continuum?
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