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#002: What To Do When You’re Spiritually Empty with Nick Mobley

Nick Mobley from the M2P writing team joins the show to tackle the subject of church leaders that deal with spiritual struggles. Elisabeth and Jeremy share what they’ve learned and make a big announcement about an addition to their family.  They also share the story of when they tried to sneak their pet turtle named Vladimir through airport security? Zac Sandry, one of our M2P members, closes the show by receiving a parent call from “Outgoing Oliver,” where a can of unicorn meat is on the line.

To read Nick’s blog post you can go HERE.

[This is a transcript of the interview portion of the podcast]

Elisabeth Lee

Nick, thank you for writing for us this week, always appreciate what you bring to the table with your ideas.

Elisabeth Lee

The question I have is what kind of choices do leaders make years before they ever get to that moment where this blog post can resonate with them? So they go "Oh man, I'm spiritually empty. I had no idea how did I get here?" What are the choices?

Elisabeth Lee

Because sometimes it takes not just months, but years to get in that place where you make choices years ago that got you there. So what kind of choices do you think? And feel free to use your personal story or just things that you've seen from other leaders?

Nick Mobley

A great question. I think there's room there's compromise that happens and then there's misguided priorities out of order. I think those are goin two righ out of the gate where we might compromise because we are called to serve and shepherd and are so passionate and gifted to do so. As a leader of the church, we sacrifice and compromise our own health and well-being, often time and time again, almost like a requirement for the job. In some way, we feel like this is just what we're supposed to do as a result of our position, and we don't even realize the damage that we've done until it's too late many times, years down the road, as you said, it's not right that we've done this for the sake of success or affirmation and approval of other people. I've compromised my family, my own emotional, spiritual condition in ways that leave me empty. Or in the case of priorities being out of order, we put superficial or worldly things before spiritual matters. And as a result, at some point that bottoms out and you can't do enough. You can't earn enough money or achieve enough accolades or garner enough praise to fill that void and then you ultimately come to that point where you realize there's nothing. What happened to me years later, I realized that I've got nothing else to give. I've nothing else to say. And as a spiritual leader, as a terrifying place to be. So it does require you to ask those questions. How did I get there. And it's important that if you have people to help you get there and answer those questions.

Jeremy Lee

You wrote an incredible resource for us, for our members in the toolbox on burnout, It was kind of a tool that came out of your experience with it. And you have taught me more than anything about burnout. One of the things that I've just held on to that you've taught me is that burnout is when you are tired, constantly tired, and you can't seem to recover, that's when you really know you're in burnout.

Jeremy Lee

I want our people who are listening to hear that, because all of us at some point we have a big event or some season that where we have to just kind of hustle and we're tired, but we can recover. It's when we can't seem to recover, when we need to kind of catch that alarm. Tell us more about your experience with that.

Nick Mobley

Yeah, I it it was quite like Elisabeth described that it took years to get there before I realized it. In many ways I dismissed those pain point and signals, you know the Lord, my wife or other people who care about me and know me well. "Hey Nick, are you OK, you sure? I didn't want to acknowledge it. I just kind of crammed it down. There was a betrayal of trust from the leader and mentor of mine that I'd known for years.

Nick Mobley

There was tragedy, both personal and in our own community. Traumas that that happened one right after another. And I know everyone experiences these at different times, but this was just a snowball, a perfect storm of both trauma, ministry, trauma, life tragedy that compiled to one day where I was just reading a couple of resources that my friends, counselors, mentors had given to me where I realized that at the end of the day, I had issues with God that I had not addressed.

Nick Mobley

I had gone weeks and months without offering a sincer and genuine prayer to God. Yet, I was still charged weekly to get up and bring a word to God's people to the youth group I led. And so I was very two-faced throughout that time that until one day I realized I didn't trust God anymore. I felt like I was abandoned, and it took me several weeks and months to really wrestle with the truth of what was inside. I believe one counselor said, "Nick, when you struggle, when you constantly try to present something on the outside, something that is not true on the inside, you are on a surefire path to burnout."

Nick Mobley

And that stuck with me. And I realized I need to deal with the heart stuff, the spiritual issues that I had long ignored, that I could regain strength and hope and endurance to run on, because at the time I felt like a heavyweight boxer that had got knocked down. And I gotte up many times before, as you said, but this time it was just easier to just stay down because I didn't want to deal with what was in front of me. That's a scary place to be.

Nick Mobley

I've never been there before, but at age thirty six, it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I knew that, if I were to live my life of any value or significance or health moving forward, I had to take care of the spiritual causes of the issues I face.

Elisabeth Lee

You know, Nick, one of the things I just want to say, and you are not alone in this, I know that it's something I experienced. You did it, like you said, at thirty six. Mine was at 27, 28, 29 ish. It came I was a little bit earlier. And I'll never forget that moment when I was in the middle of teaching students and going, "I am pulling from nothing to try and teach God's word and to teach these to these teenagers."

Elisabeth Lee

And I am just fried and done. And I love what you said is we're going to have to wrap this up because we could really talk about this forever, because it's such a passion of all three of ours.

Elisabeth Lee

But you said ask people for help, ask them how you got here. And that's one of the things I'd like to say to the children's ministers and the student ministers and any ministry leader, priest, pastor, whoever, if you're listening, that if you feel that you might be at this place or you don't want to get there, I think that's probably some of the best advice is to seek some really safe people. That may not be the people you work with.

Elisabeth Lee

Obviously, it might be a professional counselor in another city or online and just a guide, trusted counselor or maybe a mentor of who has been here before. And for if you happen to be an empty member, Nick's resource is really good. And so you can find that burnout resource in our toolbox under Care for the Soul. So, Nick, I just want to thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your story and your wisdom today.

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