Atlanta traffic stinks.  And, for me, it’s a blessing. It’s official.

I used to complain back in PA when I had to drive to see a girlfriend and it took me 20 minutes to get there. Now, if I can get to the grocery store in 20 minutes I’m doing pretty well.

Most days I’m pretty good. People are rude. They don’t drive well. It takes forever. Welcome to Atlanta! I am normally pretty calm these days (that was not always the case). It is just the way it is.

Until the other morning…
Out of nowhere, KABLOW!
I blew up. All at once, it just came out. It was not pretty either.
Where did that come from?
The answer hurts a bit.

Luke 6:45 (NIV) The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Nothing had changed in my commute. People were rude, traffic was bad, and I was sick. My heart was sick.

Traffic is a blessing for me in a couple of ways.

  • As a contemplative it gives me built in “down time” every day. I’m a better pastor, husband, and father because of “down time.”
  • It serves as an indicator for me. When I’m not patient in traffic, it is one of the first signs something is wrong with my heart (or I’m just late.) It’s a sign that things are out of balance.  AND… most importantly… I’m a jerk in the privacy of my own car! And it doesn’t cost me relationally with anybody… unless you go and blog about it.
  • It is really no surprise my heart is a mess right now. These few weeks have been packed for me. I just returned from 2 weekends in a row of camp. I have a 10, 7, and 4 year old. (Always crazy). My 4 year old just got his tonsils out and we’re in the midst of recovery.


At Transit (the middle school ministry I work with) we tell our Small Group Leaders to “Fill Up First” in all of our training. The basic premise is that growing Christians grow Christians.

If you are in this business you have to put your growth first…or your business will kill you…and your heart…and then your ministry. If it’s true for our volunteers…it’s just as much true for me and my staff.

So…what’s your system? How do you make sure to take care of you? After all…Sunday’s coming…people need you.

You can find yourself cursing at a stop-light (or way worse) real fast if you’re not careful.

What do you love to do? What would you do right now if you could?…just for fun and rest!

Figure out a way to make it happen. Fill up first!

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Tom Shefchunas

Tom is the North Point Ministries Multi-Campus Director of Transit (Middle School). Tom’s passion involves working with campus directors and their teams, as well as recruiting and developing the hundreds of volunteer small group leaders it takes to pull off Transit at the five churches of North Point Ministries. He is the co-founder of, a place for middle school ministers to gather. Tom also co-wrote Lead Small with Reggie Joiner, a resource for children and student small group leaders. Tom and his wife Julie live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey and Cooper.

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