People are stuck in a lot of things: unhealthy relationships, dead end jobs, unrealistic expectations with their career, trying to lose weight, train your dog new tricks, or your round of golf. We all get stuck. Period. It happens to churches, leaders, businesses, and all kinds of stereotypes. Introduce me to someone new and they will say “yeah, I’ve been stuck before”.


But what do we do when we get stuck? Some run for the hills. Others sit and mope through it; feeling sorry for themselves. Some ask for others to throw a pity party in their honor. Others hope that if they post their woes on social media it will bring enlightenment. The list goes on and on…


After several weeks of ineffectively leading my church through a difficult season, I took a series of days off- my sabbatical I called it- and I reflected on areas of growth, pitfalls, setbacks, seasons of blessings- the whole season. I realized I had some growing up to do. I was making detrimental mistakes. I realized that if I was going to move out of “stuck” I was going to have to handle 4 areas:


1. The right values – I discovered by being inquisitive of my own self I was becoming a copycat. I wanted to imitate my favorite preachers, copy the leaders who were really doing great things in their communities, and follow all too closely those who I admired. While I came to the conclusion that I was going to be who God wanted me to be, I was going to have to follow a new set of values. I was going to be me- not a replica of the latest and greatest preacher/teacher in another town. And when I did- I discovered a new sense of freedom and maturity. Right values created a pathway for moving forward.


2. The right people in my life – As I was navigating my own core values, I was discovering that the people I was mostly in touch with were not interested in me becoming who I was created to be. This hurt at first and I shrugged my spirit against it. But I still sensed it was something God wanted me to take a closer look at. I misjudged this for more a few days and then became more and more bothered by my friends agendas.


They wanted me to be in their corner regardless of whether or not it was a good one. The day it dawned on me was the day I ate my lunch alone. It wasn’t long before God brought a whole new group of friends into my life- that are with me to this day. I learned that the right people help you grow.


3. Making my wrongs right – I have noticed that whenever God is teaching me something that is going to radically change my life, I am going to have to apologize to someone. This principle has been the norm since my early faith years to even now. The circumstances may change but the theme runs together from season to season: when God is creating a new character in my life it always involves repentance. …and this scenario was no different.


I had to confess my own sin of jealousy and envy for what other people had. Confession is good for the soul. Making amends is a Godly character that I want to be sure to stay close to. Wat a relief it was to unhook those demons of poor choices and frustrating decisions from my past. God forgave me. People forgave me. I was becoming unstuck.


4. Right habits – The truth of the matter is that God always wants to replace our unhealthy habits with His plans. He wants to install new healthy habits for us to follow. The ones I sensed were critical to my life at the time were:


  • Daily devotions – At this point in my life I was semi-regular in my quiet time with my Lord, but I sensed I was to be more disciplined. I began to make it a priority to meet with God every day, and be prepared to document my discoveries. Even to this day, when I am stuck– I will do “two-a days” (like in conditioning for sports training). It’s a sacrifice– but I do it knowing that God is shaping me to be all He wants me to be.

  • Established date nights with my wife and children. I have always been uniquely connected with my family but I had become relaxed in my time I was spending with them individually. During my discovery of moving out of “stuck gear” I learned that I cannot be a effective pastor if I don’t take care of the ones who God gave to me first. I set goals to spend quality time with each one- which led to a greater level of trust, love, and value.

  • No more leadership books (for a while). Up till this point I was making a mockery of God by doing His work by other peoples methods. God simply asked me if I would like to follow His system of developing the church I was pastoring or if I wanted to continue to be miserable while the church dwindled in shape, spirit, and size. My answer to that question was going to change the course of the church’s history. I didn’t read any leadership books that year or the next. I needed a fresh move of God not a 10 steps to a new church.

    If you are stuck in a rut, I would encourage you examine these principles to move you forward. If the relationships you are currently in has hit a dead end, ask God to reveal a spiritual renewal, clarifying what you believe in. If the career path you are following is someone else’s, prepare for your very uncomfortable season until you discover God’s plan for your life. I urge you to welcome God’s power, comfort, and provision when you are stuck. Only The Lord can truly rescue and empower you to move ahead.


    Studying Psalm 116 could be a wonderful way to begin your sabbatical.