By Gary Miller
I’ve mentioned before how I try to pace myself when deer season opens. When I was younger, I felt like I had to be in the stand every waking minute. Any hour could be the hour that buck walked by. Granted, I didn’t have trail cameras to verify anything, but I still should have known my odds were not as good early in the year.
While there was nothing wrong with being early and often, my problem was fatigue. By the time the pre-rut was taking place it was hard for me to drag myself out of bed to get in the stand. And by the time the second rut was taking place, I was finding every excuse to stay home while everyone else was sending me pictures of their best buck ever. So, for the past several years, unless I have a trophy on camera, I will wait until late October before I ever get into that stand. I still want to be eager to get up during the second week of December when the biggest bucks show up.
Whenever I think about this scenario, I’m always reminded of the words of one pastor. He quoted Amy Carmichael. “I would rather burn out than rust out.” Of course, this sounded admirable. He was bragging about long workdays, no days off, and no vacations. He thought God must be proud of this remarkable commitment and heralded the fact that any worthwhile man or woman of God ought to do the same.
What he didn’t realize (or didn’t care about) were the needs of those who called him dad, husband and friend, and about God’s own command to care for his own body which was the temple of the Holy Spirit. He thought the only two options were burning out and rusting out. He never thought about the possibility of a third – planning it out. Plan out working enough, resting enough, and even playing enough, that when the end comes, there will not only be fruit, but longevity – there will not only be worthwhile accomplishments in the lives of parishioners, but worthwhile accomplishments in the lives of those who sometimes physically look up to him as well. I have not always followed my own advice, but I’ve always remembered that God doesn’t need me. He LETS me. And the longer I can stick around, the better chance I have of not only being the leader I need to be, but being the human I need to be as well.
Gary Miller can be reached via email at email@example.com.