It could happen to the best of us. Whether you are a pastor, mom, student or corporate executive – not taking care of yourself can cripple your ability to do anything.
Rev. Junius Dotson, after years of plowing through life to achieve milestone after milestone – crashed. Dotson recalls the moment when he passed out while preaching a funeral. Dropped straight to the floor. Out.
As he preached through the 23rd Psalm, words of comfort coming from his mouth, he began to feel light-headed and disoriented. Then, he went down.
The next thing he knew, he was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. He felt like a failure and humiliated that he had let this family down. What kind of pastor/leader does that?
As it turned out, the kind of leader who is worn out, wrung out and ready to give out.
Rev. Dotson, who pastored Saint Mark UMC Wichita for 14 years, is now chief executive officer of Discipleship Ministries, an international agency of the United Methodist Church.
His new book, “Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough and the Journey to Wholeness,” (Upper Room Books) tells the story of his journey back to spiritual, emotional, and physical health and wellness. The title echoes the “return to factory settings” option on a computer. Sometimes when a computer – or a life – gets so filled with clutter and extraneous matter, the best solution is a hard reset, a process that restores the device to its original setting.
Dotson’s epiphany came when he’d been in the ministry for many years. From pastoring a new church start in California, to launching a multi-campus site in Wichita, ministry in both places were growing at rapid pace, disciples were learning and ministry, by all standards, were great successes.
“I bought into the myth that what it took to be a strong leader was to never allow myself to be vulnerable,” Dotson said. This unwillingness to be honest and transparent about himself to himself is what led to his collapse. Rather than feeling embarrassed or ashamed of his breakdown as many people would have done, he wisely used the condition to come to a healthy breakthrough.
“When I finally began to talk about the impossibility of doing everything I thought I needed to do to be a good pastor or leader, I realized this collapse was not a failure at all. It was another part of my call to leadership,” he said. “It is a part of my voice, part of what God is calling me to do. To speak from this place of vulnerability.”
Dotson says Soul Reset gives readers some advice and suggestions on how to get back to basics.
“I realized that my spiritual first love was not my ministry,” he said. “My first love was my relationship with God!”
In order to reset our soul and experience the wholeness we crave, Dotson said, we need only look to Jesus.
“He showed us how to be in ministry, how to work long hours, how to address the needs and expectations of many people, all while staying connected to God. He knows that it’s all too easy to get burned out on religion. He knows that taking a real rest is rarely easy to do. He knows that we need to recover our lives. He knows what we feel and what we go through because he has lived it.”
Will you slow down long enough for a Soul Reset? Dotson will be in Wichita, for the first stop on a multi-city book tour. Dotson will bring his teaching on how to recharge, refresh, renew and reset Saturday, Aug. 24, from 8 a.m. – noon (followed by a book signing) at the Heart of Christ Church, formerly Saint Mark Southeast Campus, 856 S. Green Street.
On Sunday, Aug. 25, at 11 a.m., Dotson will be guest preacher at Heart of Christ Church.
You can learn more about upcoming Soul Reset opportunities, including Soul Reset Leadership Summits, the Soul Reset Retreat and the Soul Reset Book Tour at soulreset.org.