Pastoral ministry is such an amazing blessing to get to do with your life! It’s rewarding, it’s fulfilling, and it’s exhilarating to live a life of faith. That being said, the stresses are enormous. 90% of pastors do not retire from the ministry; they simply leave due to moral failures, burnout, medical issues, and emotional pain. As pastors, we know stress on a level that most people try everything to avoid! So, what is our plan to stay strong for the long haul? Let me share some of our tips with you and encourage you to use them to manage your own stressful seasons:
1. We deal with problems as quickly as we possibly can. Mark and I are known for moving quickly. Some of that is the reality that opportunity is missed by the timid, but a lot of that is due to the fact that we know we simply can’t live in the midst of turmoil very long. The issue in front of us at any given time can be all-consuming. It can rob us of our family time, our work efficiency, and ultimately harm the mission of God. We listen to the voice of God and then face the problem head on. What problems are you avoiding that is causing a monumental amount of stress in your life?
2. We take a day off every week and use our vacation time during the year. The sabbath was designed by God to get you to stop! Although we have times we overschedule or have emergencies, we still make it a priority to plan and execute times to do NOTHING. We even have a system for our kid’s chores where they get a day off as well. We also take every day given to us in vacation time. We budget and save to go on one great family vacation every year. What are you doing to give yourself time away from your normal activities and burdens?
3. We have friends. We are not lone-range pastors. We have pastoral friends that carry enormous weight and understand our lives. We call on them for wisdom, help, and advice. We also have friends in our church that we laugh with and enjoy being around. We lean on our staff and board as were intended. Our staff knows and sees our blind spots…their job is not to exploit it, but rather support it and we do the same for them. Our board is the safe place to deal with issues and solve problems. We meticulously created a support network around ourselves and we continue to build it up. Who is your support network and are you using them appropriately or abusing them?
4. We read our Bibles and pray. I know this seems obvious and simple, but the number of people in ministry and the “real” world that skip this discipline is astounding. www.youversion.com will give you online reading guides and help you get a plan together. You won’t make it in ministry without private time with Jesus. Simple. As. That. How are your personal disciplines going?
So, that’s our strategy to THRIVE in ministry for the next 20+ years. We’ve got a lot of vision and excitement for the future, but it’s the daily habits and systems that will keep us on track to accomplish our goals. That’s true for you as well! Be blessed!