One of my early goals in ministry was to survive. I grew up the child of a pastor. Growing up, I had seen pastors come, and pastors go for so many different reasons. When my wife and I began serving in a church setting, I knew I wanted to outlast, outwit, and outplay (Yes, I still watch Survivor) the schemes of Satan that wanted to tear me apart from my calling as a pastor. I want to stay in the game. I want to endure as a pastor and enjoy the mission and the calling to serve. I am betting if you are reading this, you want the same thing!
Staying focused and healthy while serving in a church setting is hard. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I am on the journey with you with about 20 more years of vocational ministry ahead of me. Here is what I am trying to do to stay in the game. I hope some of this is helpful to you.
- Stop trying to be the perfect leader and strive to be a teachable servant.
- Take days off and leverage vacation time.
- Invest in your family with the same passion as the church.
- Center your preaching ministry on the Scriptures more than your personality.
- Please find a few pastor friends and keep them close.
- Allow both personal and distant mentors (mentors from a distance from podcasts and books) to guide you.
- Find a therapist or coach you can turn to in difficult seasons.
- Read. Leaders are readers, so make sure you are consuming theology, non-fiction, and fiction.
- Laugh more.
- Celebrate every victory in the church you lead.
- Develop and put into practice a personal prayer habit.
- Date your spouse and listen to them more.
- Have friends in your church but don’t worry about making people like you. (Yes, you will get hurt along the way, but you need friends in your congregation.)
- Don’t feed your soul on the approval of affirmation from your congregation or social media.
- You have not arrived. Keep striving to improve your skills as a communicator and a leader.