Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bucket Fillers

For the past several years my kids have had a encouragement program going in their classrooms called "Bucket Fillers".  The jest is when you encourage someone you "fill their bucket" with kindness and make them better.  When you are a jerk you are essentially poking holes into everyone's bucket.  For more info check out this truly scary kids song called Fill Your Bucket.

If you took the time to check that out, I completely recognize you wasted 2 minutes your life and it's all my fault.  If you made it past 2 minutes, seriously, what is wrong with you?  Oh wait, I probably drained your bucket just there.  I'm such a jerk!

Anyways, I listened to an older Bill Hybels talk this week on operating with a full bucket.  The quote that really hit me from it was:

The best thing you bring to the table every day as a leader is a full bucket.  Full of optimism, full of faith, full of a fresh Spirit from God, full of a grace filled demeanor, full with rock solid confidence in God.  

The main reason your full bucket is your best asset is you can only offer anyone no more than what you have.  I know when I read back through the list of the things a full bucket person has my first thoughts are, "yeah I would love to be around a lot of full people".

I then begin to look at myself and wonder, "at what level is my bucket at?"  Luckily in the talk Hybels prescribes a few practices to achieve and maintain a full bucket.  

1.  Start Your Day Away - He talks about how he would come into the office with leadership books and other to do's surrounding him crying out to be read.  He began to change his scenery, to get to a place where those things were out of view so his time with God could become less distracted.  Change of scenery is something I have done recently and I have to say I'm noticing that my time with God has been a lot richer.  

Hybels said it better than I could "when I get away to listen to God slowly, He speaks more frequently, and I surrender more fully".  This can be a really hard thing to do for some of us with work deadlines, child schedules, homework, housework, walking the dog, sports to watch, etc.  

But if I can only offer what I have I must take the time to change scenery and get away, not just yearly, or monthly, or weekly, but daily.  What good am I when I can offer a half full life into my relationships?  It makes me think of how I went through the drive through the other day and was handed a way less than full soda.  It's like, excuse me, do your job man, fill'er up.  When I go about my day on less than full how many disappointed people do I leave in my path?  

Starting my day away is something I must commit to, not just for my own benefit but so I will also have more to offer people along the way.

2.  Diet and Exercise Dictate Energy - It's pretty obvious that your physical health may be a limiting factor in how you feel personally and what you have to offer others.  Sometimes there are health issues you simply cannot control.  But we can control how much and what we choose to eat and how much we move.  So since I can control it, I need to just do it.

3.  Take Your Days Off - (Warning, it's about to get real up in here so if you can't handle authenticity, you may want to stop reading)  If I could go back to my 20-year-old self I would have tried to learn this lesson back then.  I've always known how to work.  At one point in college I had nine W2's to report at tax time.  I worked several jobs through college, many at the same time and this carried into adulthood and ministry as well.  I often avoided taking time off, feeling guilty or bad for doing so.  

When I was pregnant with our first child I was working a late night youth event, and played basketball with teenagers the night I went into labor.  I was also back to work 2 weeks after having my daughter.  This wasn't out of love for Jesus or students at all.  It was all in an effort to prove "I could do it all."  

I will say that being a woman in ministry, I did place a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself at the time.  At the time there were no "standards for maternity leave prescribed for women in ministry". (I'm so glad there is now).  I really did have the freedom to be "off" but I refused to do so.  I thought I was offering people what they needed by "being there".  I now confess that what I was really offering up was my dirty, nasty, smelly, stinky, PRIDE.  

It wasn't until our second child was born that Chris and I got away for our first real vacation as a couple.  As we drove up to Wisconsin in -17 degree weather we just laughed and joked together all the way there.  Halfway there I realized I was being the person Chris had fallen in love with eight years ago.  That was not the same person who had gotten in the car just two hours earlier.  I remember telling Chris, "I finally feel like me again."  He agreed that I was in a bad place, that I had changed, and he was gracious enough to forgive me and to keep forgiving me for this.  

As Hybels puts it "the work of God is destroying the work of God in me".  It wasn't God's fault.  It wasn't my church's fault.  It wasn't my lead pastor's fault.  It was MY own fault.  I had let pride and "proving myself" win over my relationship with Christ.  I would not have come to that realization if I wouldn't have finally agreed to take time off.  We're given days off by our organizations for a reason, so we don't drain ourselves to the point of empty.  Listen up! (especially moms) Drop the guilt because it's really a cover up for pride.  

4.  Surround Yourself with Bucket Fillers - This is perhaps my favorite.  Just like my kid's class there are bucket fillers and bucket drainers...everywhere.  You don't ignore a person just because they are a bucket drainer but you will need to keep some healthy distance from them in order to keep moving forward and have anything of value to offer others.  Who are the bucket fillers in your life?  Carve out time to be present with them.

The key questions when it comes to evaluating the state of your bucket are:  What do your friends, family, and coworkers experience from being around you these days?  A full bucket?  A leaky bucket?  An empty bucket?

If you are at full, spend time praising God for that, share it with others, do what you can to maintain it.

Maybe you're singing "There's a Hole in My Bucket Dear Liza" (ha, ha now you have that song in your head, cruel, I know, cruel).  Do like the song says "Well fix it, Dear Henry".  Use some of the steps mentioned to get you there.

If you are on empty take immediate action on those four things and if you are still empty then seek the help of a counselor because empty is no way to live.