July 3rd 2011
It had been almost one year since Mark Tee-Collins had left the city for a getaway and the things he’d seen in that six years of street ministry through the two churches he’d planted had left him feeling a whole mix of emotions. So when he left to see me in Sterling late in October of 2009 there was some major concern with him coming alone. But he had left his niece and cousin in San Francisco for that express purpose, to come visit a friend and escape the big city, and ministry. Around four in the morning California time a very tired, distressed and depressed Mark was speeding along at over one hundred miles an hour when he collided with a Semi. The news was staggering to all of us in the 10:31 family, Mark had helped found the ministry and had funded it with his own money.
I didn’t get to attend the funeral and I haven’t made any trips to his grave side. Not because I don’t miss the man or have no respect for him but because I haven’t had the chance to fly out to Atlanta to see him. About four weeks after his passing my dad mailed me a letter, he told me that a lot of times in inner-city ministry it is very easy to get burnt out. My dad explained that the Jews understood this and that’s why every seven years everyone quit working, the slaves were freed and the debts were forgiven. It was a chance for them to get away from the stress and take time for their souls.
In America I’m starting to believe that we forget the value of our souls. We fill them up with Chicken Soup when they are down and tell them to keep fighting one more pay day. In Ministry we get so caught up in our “Evangelical Responsibility” that we forget that even Jesus stopped preaching and went into the wilderness every now and then. We minister to the lost and the broken and the needy and the hurting that we don’t take the time to minister to ourselves, or let others minister to us.
So our days are filled with trying to apply the next greatest idea for our ministry, or saving the kids, youth, drunks and whoever else we might have to minister to. We go at it 24/7, 365 until we experience the Ministry Burn-Out. I often equate being a ministry major or teacher with being scatter brained because I am scattered brained and most of my close friends and teachers are the same way. I wonder if that comes from not taking the time to rest, to take a vacation, to go to the farm or just go home. I wonder if the scatter brain feeling is because I am beginning to burn myself out by trying to do as much as I possibly can. If it’s a sign my soul really needs to take a break and do something for itself.
On the first day here in Denver we were told we needed to take “Artist Dates,” to go out and do something that our soul longs to do. Scatter brained Ministry Major me didn’t really like this idea, like I said before I love being busy and doing a hundred different things. However my soul and my mind can’t take that kind of schedule at the rate they could when I was sixteen or seventeen. If I hadn’t taken the time to care for myself I probably would have been burned out by now as I’ve never, ever worked in the city or with anyone who wasn’t the same as me, white-middle classed.
Today I encourage you to be selfish, go do something you want to do so that you don’t get burnt out with whatever it is you’re doing. Go out and watch old movies or ride a bike or read a book or play with your dog or whatever you choose to do, do something for yourself. I encourage you to do this so you don’t get burned out on Ministry, jobs, school and even friends. Go and do something for yourself, your soul will thank you for it.