The letdown took longer this time. You know that feeling of “I wish it wasn’t over yet, but I’m relieved.”? Usually that emotional plunge happens right after the retreat, when I’m so tired I could drop. But this particular year, it waited for a full week to hit.
What do you do, to ease back into your daily routine after an emotionally-charged, high-energy event? Anticlimax is really not so unusual. Elijah had a big showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, but when confronted by one woman, he ran. (See 1 Kings 18:16-19:4) What happened to that powerful man of God? Didn’t he just beat out 850 false prophets? Didn’t he pray until God ended a drought?
Take a look at how Elijah made it back to the land of the living.
5 Steps for Self-care
1) Sleep. Elijah was tired! He laid down under the shade of a tree and fell asleep. When you lead others, you will also need opportunity for rest. Set aside time to regroup.
2) Eat. Elijah was hungry! He needed nourishment. Have you ever noticed food isn’t as appealing when you’re up against a deadline? Your mind is on the details instead of the tastes. Take time to nourish your body with lots of pure water and fresh fruits. Good nutrition will rejuvenate your mental capacity and your physical stability.
3) Acknowledge need. The angel of the Lord knew the journey was too much for Elijah. When we plow through life, we have to pay attention to lulls in energy. They are reminders to take care of ourselves or we won’t be able to minister to anyone. Ask for prayer. Let friends know you’re having a dark day and need their intercession. They’ll surround you with love and care.
4) Seek the Lord. Elijah went to Horeb, the mountain of God. He felt alone in his zealous activities for God. Yet the Lord revealed Himself and His servants to Elijah in a generous response to Elijah’s despondency. Do you feel alone in your work for the Lord? Is it time for one-on-one with Him in order to gain a new perspective?
5) Enlist help. Elijah got an assistant. Let others be a part of the planning and execution of your retreat. It gives them ownership and provides you with someone to share the joys and burdens.
Are you heading for burn-out? Take a cue from Elijah and tend to your needs. You’ll gain strength required for the next project!
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