Every day I get to wake up and do my dream job. It’s not necessarily how I envisioned my life as a child (or a teenager for that matter), but it has become what feeds the passion of my soul. I think that’s really what the “dream job” looks like. It’s that fit, that situation, where you are where you are (1) passionate about where you are at , and (2) that place challenges you, on a daily basis, to grow on every level.
Within this vocation, I’ve discovered that many, if not most, pastors don’t feel the way I do. Instead of a calling, you feel sentenced. And to leave what you do leaves feelings of disobedience and failure. So you endure what should be a joy.
I hope I can help in some way today.
I’m a pastor who has a burden for pastors. I think that burden has been birthed in large part to my own pastoral hurts, struggles, and (even more so) mistakes. You and I may be in different church scenarios, size, and/or surroundings. And because of that, you may feel isolated in what you’re dealing with.
I understand the weight of expectation (and, consequently, wish I handled it better).
I understand being in the hospital over anxiety and/or chest pains.
I understand the feeling of letting down your congregation, staff, and family.
I understand emotional breakdowns that debilitate you on every level.
I understand the how 1 critical comment/letter can devastate you in the midst of a plethora of encouraging words.
I understand what it’s like to resign because of frustration.
I understand when people are hearing what you are saying but they miss your heart.
I understand not being able to shut down your mind so you can sleep.
I understand what it’s like to be accused of something I’m not guilty of.
I understand what it feels like to hear your kids say they miss you (and you haven’t traveled anywhere).
I understand pouring into someone only to see them destroy their life.
I know what it’s like to stare at a blank page not knowing what to preach.
As therapeutic as it is making this list (kinda wanted to write more), there’s a point to all of it. It’s to let you know…
You’re not alone.
But amidst of all of the flurry of everything that encapsulates ministry, there’s one significant lesson (of MANY lessons) I’ve come to understand. It has been a guide to help get some sanity (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually)
Master the mundane.
Find/discover a routine that will facilitate health and well-being for you and your family. It’s hard to expect the church you lead to be healthy when you, the pastor, refuse to be healthy. And health, in large part, comes about when you master the mundane. I’m not talking about throwing some kale into your lunch every now and then. I’m talking about strategically shifting the “mundane” (schedule, routine) to a place where it facilitates productive pastoring instead of it mastering you into a place of ministry monotony.
Here are some thoughts to help take ownership over the mundane/routine/schedule…
Please be a spouse. You married a human; you didn’t marry a ministry. In efforts to build a great ministry, far too many pastors have chosen to sacrifice the most important relationship outside of their relationship with Jesus. Connect daily. Date often. Laugh together as much as possible. Be intimate consistently. Pray endlessly.
Be a parent. Some of the most sobering words I have heard over and over from older ministers regarding lost time with their children: “Someone else could’ve led the meeting/preached the message/counseled the person…being on the sideline was more important than being in the pulpit.” Don’t get me wrong, this is my vocation, but the heart behind the comments to me was a matter of priority that was missed. You’re kids need to see that they are the most important children in your congregation. It’s not about showing favoritism (as in spoiling them with entitlement). It is about making sure they know they are a priority to you.
Set a pace. Take care of yourself. Build both rest and exercise into your schedule. We have far too many ministers harping on congregations about inner and outer health when they refuse to practice what they’re preaching. Because of so many evening appointments, almost daily, I will build a run into my schedule. It gives a good break PLUS I use it as time to spend in prayer. I can put more, but I’ll let you read the blog I wrote for Converge Coaching on the subject.
Be in the community. Have a presence and connection in the community where you live. It’s way more simple than you realize. Frequent the same venues and develop relationships without wearing your sandwich-board sign that says, “I’m a pastor.” (Note: if you ask for a pastoral discount ANYWHERE…turn in your credentials.) I’m in the same coffeehouse every morning (on my day off, I still stop in). I go to the same person to cut my hair. I have a favorite place for lunch. Relationships in the community is currency and far too many pastors are relationally bankrupt. Jesus only had a bit more than 3 years of ministry, yet he spent much of that sitting at tables with people who were not welcome in church. That should challenge us all.
Have a social network presence. This is where most of your congregation lives and connects, why not have an online presence? But here’s what i’ll say about it: Have fun and don’t be “that person” who people groan at when they see your name in their feed because of the negativity. My social network philosophy: encouragement and amusement. Look for the fun and inspirational. Let your congregation know your human and have a life AND you have fun. Use social network to pray over people. Send messages of encouragement when you see people come across your feed. Just don’t add to the mess by being that snarky pastor who post more critical blogs from Christians about Christians so that we can be “better Christians.” Be a breath of fresh air to the social media feeds of the people you are connected to.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
Don’t be a slave to a schedule of ministry no one can live up to. Master the mundane. Get control over your schedule and breathe a breath of health into your routine. Get a healthy grip of what your calendar looks like and watch your, your home, and your ministry transform.
Love ya pastor!! I believe in you because I believe in the One who called ya.
Thanks for letting me ramble…