I've engaged in a number of conversations over the past few weeks about the priority of staying spiritually fresh as pastors/ministry leaders when we pour so much of ourselves into the lives of others. It's been a good dialogue as I've been able to share the two biggest indicators in my life that show me my spiritual batteries are getting low.
1) Loss of Hope! When I start to lose the conviction that God is at work amongst all my efforts in a messy world and that it is in vain, I know my spiritual batteries are getting low. Gordon MacDonald once said it this way "I can delegate a lot of ministry tasks... but I cannot delegate hope" or that sense of "that with God we will prevail." I'm coming to learn that when "hope dies, motivation dies" and that is dangerous within ministry. I keep a close watch on my hope guage by regularly asking myself the question "Do I believe with all my heart that the local church is the hope of the world?" My honest reaction to that question helps me monitor where I'm at in respects to hope.
2) Loss of Love! When I start to lose a love for people, I know that my spiritual batteries are running low. I'm in no way suggesting that loving others is an easy task for we can all be unlovable at times, but I'm called to love as God has loved me. When people become more of a frustration and irritant rather than a person to love and show grace to as God loves and shows grace, I know that it's time to take action.
I've come to learn that these two things are my primary indicators for making the time to re-calibrate my spiritual life. I'm sure God will continue to reveal other things that will act as the "warning signals" in my life, but these two are helping me continue to move towards the finish line for Christ!