How on earth can you last for over 20 years in ministry?
I was recently talking to a friend of mine who planted his church 20 years ago and is still thriving in ministry.
We were discussing the complexities of ministry today.
Let’s face it, pastoring has never been easy.
Pastoring Is Complex
However, I think today’s ministry life make it even more difficult because of a few different factors:
- mobile phones make pastors more readily accessible
- member’s irregularity in their Sunday attendance
- ‘never off’ online world
- even committed people seem to take longer to become solid givers when they join a church
These are just a few of the things that make pastoral life complex and pressured.
Over the last 3 ½ years we’ve conducted nearly 70 consults in local churches ranging in size from 75 to 1000. Amongst the many things I’ve seen there’s been one key issue for me as I’ve talked with dozens of pastors.
Pastors Must Prioritise Self-Care
Today, more than ever before, pastors need to prioritise self-care.
The harsh truth is that if pastors don’t look after themselves then who will?
Boards? They tend to react to crises rather than initiate care.
Friends? It takes a super good friend to stop you in your tracks and tell you to change your ways.
Family? Pastors are generally driven people who can turn a deaf ear to their family’s complaints.
Therefore, pastors need to take responsibility for their own well-being and one area this includes is holidays.
Pastors should take a minimum of four weeks annual holidays with a couple of extra weekends off a year.
Who Can Afford To Go Away For Four Weeks?
In 37 years of marriage Di and I have been away from home on a four week holiday on only two occasions.
Our habit has been to take 7 – 10 days away and then spend the other weeks holidaying at home.
Develop The Art of a Holiday at Home
In fact, I tell pastors they need to develop the skill of a holiday at home.
Some pastors avoid holidays because they can’t afford to go away for four weeks every year and so they keep postponing their holidays. The result? Accumulated fatigue. Exhaustion.
When you learn how to holiday at home you develop a habit of taking all of your annual leave every year.
The result? Refreshed. Invigorated. Alive!
How To Take A Holiday At Home
1. Change your routine
Turn your routine upside down.
Do everything different.
Join a gym.
Take a painting course.
Throw yourself into a hobby.
Buy the morning paper and read it slowly over a coffee or two.
Take leisurely walks.
Go out for breakfast on Sunday morning (yes this is ok).
Go to bed late.
Whatever you do change your daily routine and spread your wings.
2. Become a tourist in your own region
An excellent mindset for your staycation is that of a tourist. Imagine you are visiting your region for the first time and think like a tourist.
Surf the web and find out what are the region’s highlights and get out and see them.
Visit an art gallery, a museum, a farm or shops you don’t normally visit.
Take some road trips.
Make like a tourist and take lots of photos and share them with friends.
3. Set strong boundaries
I know some pastors will bemoan the fact that if I stay at home I’ll keep running into people and they will want to talk church and their problems and so on.
Pastor, learn to operate some healthy boundaries.
Talk to your members about your need for space. Learn how to shut down unhelpful conversations.
Model rest and recreation as an essential part of 21st century living.
It will help your people discover the power of unwinding and resting in our 24/7 culture.
Do whatever it takes to take your annual holidays so that like my friend you can last over 20 years.