The thought of days like today exhaust me. But in actual practice, they often energize me.
I'm what many pastors are- the introvert who loves to be the center of attention. That's why we love to be alone at the front or the center of the room. Many of us would rather engage with 100 people than with one.
But for me, I knew that was an instinct I couldn't nurture. I realized back in the late 90's that my introversion was killing my ministry- my inability to come out of myself and connect with others meant I could be all alone in a room full of people, people I was supposed to be taking care of on one level or another. And though for most, that's a serious issue to be worked through, for me, it was infinitely more pressing- my "job" was people and I realized, unless I got over that tendency, I would have a very short ministry career.
I developed a mental picture of what the guy I wanted to be was like- gregarious, generous with attention, mindful of who was being left out... And did my best to be that guy in limited bursts. At first, I needed to picture (literally) putting on and taking off the "pastor hat" (red mesh truckers cap, in case you are wondering). When I was wearing that hat, I was gregarious, outgoing- the pastoral extrovert I needed to be.
And when the event or time with people was over, I'd take that hat off and surrender to exhaustion.
As those in the recovery community know, "fake it 'till you make it" often works. When you act how you want to be, slowly, the insides fall in line with the outsides. We act our way into new modes of being/belief, not the other way around. Side note: this is why I groan whenever I hear people say, "I don't want to do something just because I'm supposed to- I'll begin doing it (exercising, regularly being a part of a church community, loving someone they are supposed to love, etc) when I feel again like I want to. At that point, the battle is already over.
So as I say- slowly, I've become the guy I had hoped to be. Not there yet (in many ways), and the thought of days like today, with five meetings and lots of conversations still have the ability to make me tired just looking at the calendar. But in actual practice I've learned- leaning in with people, listening to their stories, dreaming together, untangling knotty problems, coaching, pastoring... It's what I was made to do. And that, I find, though tiring, is energizing in a way that few other things are.