Many of us, as leaders, are functioning in the same way as tired parents with young children. We spend time with those that we’re leading – pouring all our energy, attention and resource into them and find ourselves left with no reserves, desperate to crash when people leave our home. Parents of young children often can’t wait for their children to go to bed so that they can finally have a “rest” and do the things they want to do.
Don’t hear us wrong here. We know that being around kids can be exhausting. And we also know that leadership can be exhausting too.
But what if we learnt to rest and work “with” our kids instead of “apart” from them?
What if, instead of waiting to do all the jobs until our kids went to bed we taught them how to help with the jobs, or we taught them how to play on their own so that we could get on with the jobs, or have a bit of time to ourselves. What if we taught our kids how to resolve disputes so they weren’t always dependent on us for refereeing every argument? What if we taught our kids to pray and to eat from the Word so that we could all be nourished by God together? What if we showed them how to make themselves a drink so that we didn’t always need to help them? What if we found games or activities that we all enjoyed so that we didn’t just have allocated times when the “kids are happy” and allocated times when the “adults are happy?”
What if we learnt to integrate?
What if we learnt to rest and work “with” rather than “apart” from our kids?
It’s the same process for those we lead in our team & extended family, our oikos. What if we learnt to rest and work “with” those in our oikos rather than “apart” from them?
Life is exhausting when we’re continuously compartmentalizing:
• This part of my life belong in my “God” box
• This part of my life belongs in my “discipleship” box
• This part of my life belongs in my “missional” box.
• This part of my life belongs in my “rest” box.
• This part of my life belongs in my “nuclear family box”
• This part of my life belongs in my “extended family” box
We could go on.
It takes time to shift our mindset and change a culture and sometimes we feel like giving up. All parents have their share of bad days. We all have days when we want to lock ourselves in a room and leave the kids to it. And as leaders we all have days like that too. If it takes time to build towards the above scenario we described with kids it will be the same in an oikos. The first thing we need to change is our own mindset. And from there we can begin to create this kind of culture.
We will still need appropriate boundaries in place, because boundaries create healthy relationships. It’s healthy for parents to have a weekend away without the kids, or to have an evening out together. It’s healthy for leaders to have time apart from their oikos. But doing this from a place of rest rather than a place of desperation or exhaustion is a very different dynamic. In our next post we’ll talk about some practical ways to do this. But, in case we all fall into the trap of thinking we can do this stuff with the help of a few practical tips, let’s look to Jesus and remind ourselves of how he lived an integrated life:
Deep relationship with the Father
Living an ‘oikos lifestyle’ certainly doesn’t mean we spend every waking hour with others. It doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself or your personal walk with Jesus – which always includes the personal, quiet, hidden place. Jesus demonstrated a clear pattern of solitude as He went alone to be with His Father. The bible refers to Jesus having time with his Father before picking His disciples, before His transfiguration, before His death and after being with the crowds. In fact, as the pressure of the crowds increased it says in Luke 5 that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer”. After discovering the news of John the Baptist’s beheading Jesus immediately went on a boat “to a remote area to be alone.” In a time of deep grief Jesus knew that He needed to be alone. The crowds were following Him at this point and as he stepped from the boat He had compassion on them and healed their sick. But compassion and healing came after His time alone.
Doing ordinary, everyday life “with” others rather than “apart” from others.
When we read the gospels we get a good flow of the life of Jesus. He simply “lived his life” with others, whether that was with His disciples, his family, friends, the crowds. Whether it was going to a wedding, walking along the shore, going into the synagogue, healing the sick, or sleeping in a boat it was all done at least with his disciples, and often with others too. He didn’t have a “getting-on-with-my-own-life” compartment and a “healing-the-sick” compartment. He integrated His life, doing only what He saw the Father doing, and aware that without the Father He could do nothing.