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Compassion CEO International Jimmy Mellado on Importance of Rest in Ministry, Advice for Young Leaders

( [email protected] ) Oct 06, 2017 10:51 AM EDT
Jimmy Mellado, CEO of Compassion International, shared his thoughts on leadership burnout and the importance of discipline in both rest and work at the annual Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jimmy Mellado, CEO of Compassion International, speaks at Catalyst Atlanta. Catalyst

Jimmy Mellado, CEO of Compassion International, shared his thoughts on leadership burnout and the importance of discipline in both rest and work at the annual Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mellado, who previously served as the president of the Willow Creek Association, a not-for-profit ministry dedicated to helping local churches thrive, first pointed out that today, many pastors and faith leaders are expected to carry out the same roles and responsibilities as the CEO of a large company.

"What we're finding is a lot of senior pastors are doing God's work in ways that are destroying God's work in them and leading them to make decisions that they wouldn't normally make, and it's hard to see," he said.

Mellado warned against putting "cause before the Kingdom of Heaven," because that's when one "starts to cut corners."

"Your soul pays the price," he said. "When I look at Jesus when He came to earth, he didn't start with the Great Commission. He started with the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven. He was inviting people into a way of life; He was inviting people into the kingdom way and inviting them to live that life. Cause, then, came out of the way of life."


"The best movements throughout history that had the best staying power were the movements that came out of the way of life, the kingdom life, and the movement, and then cause," he continued, cautioning against sacrificing family, marriages, and children on the "altar of the cause."

Mellado, a former Olympic athlete, said that often, stress isn't the problem -- it's our incompetent recovery strategies. Thus, the more demanding a role becomes, "my strategies of rest have to be as disciplined as my strategies in leadership."

"The more intense the position demands [are], the more intense I have to be at having replenishment strategies," he said.

"When I was an athlete, if I only worked out, that always led to injury," he explained. "I had to be as vigilant about my rest and my recovery as my workout. And, it's the same in life, too. The more intense my life becomes, in terms of the demands of leadership, I have to get as rigorous and as focused and as disciplined on my recovery strategies."

He added, "My vacation time is the first thing that goes on the calendar on a daily basis. I know, when I leave my office, I have shut off - like I'm done with the day. I need a finish line...I put the rest around the intensity."

Mellado said that at the end of the day, it's important to remember that the most important contribution one can make to the Kingdom of Heaven is "nothing that I do, but it's who I am becoming in Christ."

"That, in fact, is my most contribution to the advancement of the Kingdom, is letting the Kingdom advance in me," he said. "And then, the doing for Christ flows naturally out of that. If I ever get that reversed, that's when I start cutting corners on doing God's work in ways that destroy my soul."

When asked what advice he'd give a young leader, Mellado said to "never do leadership alone."

"Life in leadership is hard, life in leadership alone is impossible," he said. "When you feel that leadership is a burden, find help because Christ tell us in His Scriptures that His burden is light, His burden is easy. If it's getting heavy, it isn't our Savior that's making it heavy. Somehow, we're making it heavy. So, find out why."

Compassion International, a Christian child sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world, seeks to impact children through the local church -- and that is important, Mellado said. 

"We just actually believe that the strategy of the discipleship and the Great Commission is the most effective strategy to release a child from poverty in Jesus' name," he said. "It's not community development, it's not just doing food, or it's not just doing healthcare, or it's not just doing education - it's the full Gospel of Jesus Christ being administered to children and the most vulnerable folks in the world."

He added, "There's nothing like the local church when the local church is working right...they're the ones that are reaching out and picking up the throwaway babies in a ditch and saving them in India, they're the ones that are taking little girls out of being sex trafficked or little boys out of slave labor...it's the church that is eradicating need...It's just what churches do when they're working biblically."

"That's where the Kingdom of Heaven is, and that's where I want to invest the rest of my life," he said.

Tags : Catalyst, Catalyst Conference, Jimmy Mellado, ministry, leadership, leadership burnout, Compassion International