I have been in ministry for twenty plus years (yikes!), either serving on staff or as a senior pastor, and I will admit that through this journey, I have blown it many times. However, I am thrilled that God has given me grace over the years. One of my main struggles has been to manage myself and to avoid burnout. Boy, have I learned! That said, I thought that I would put together a top ten list of things a pastor should and could do to stay healthy and effective, listed in no particular order. I hope it helps:
- Pray fervently– never underestimate the need to pray and the power of prayer.
- Read God’s Word devotionally– don’t just read for studying purposes, read to take in the Word of God to speak to your heart.
- Take one or two days off a week, and be sure to take vacations. And don’t apologize for it, you need time away.
- Set healthy boundaries. Cell phones should go off at a certain time. Email and texts can wait. Your kids and spouse should not see your face in front of an electronic device more than they see your face in front of them.
- Exercise three times a week, at least. It keeps you in shape and lowers stress.
- Eat healthy. Fast food meals catch up to you fast.
- Get in a Bible study in which you are not the teacher. You need to learn and grow from a small group, too. I go to a community men’s study and go out of my way to be “one of the guys.”
- Date. I mean your spouse. Do it monthly.
- Go to special events. If you have kids or grandkids, go to their games, plays, etc. And don’t go as a pastor and talk to others- focus on them as a parent or grandparent.
- Have an accountability partner. Find another pastor, preferably outside of your denomination. I have had men in my past who I had as confidants, and it was so rich- and by the way, we never spoke about the nonessentials of theology.
I will be commenting over the next few weeks on each point, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments on all of this, and if you think that there are other things I didn’t write about…