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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.

  1. Stop trying to be the perfect leader and strive to be a teachable servant.
  2. Take days off and leverage vacation time.
  3. Invest in your family with the same passion as the church.
  4. Center your preaching ministry on the Scriptures more than your personality.
  5. Please find a few pastor friends and keep them close.
  6. Allow both personal and distant mentors (mentors from a distance from podcasts and books) to guide you.
  7. Find a therapist or coach you can turn to in difficult seasons.
  8. Read. Leaders are readers, so make sure you are consuming theology, non-fiction, and fiction.
  9. Laugh more.
  10. Celebrate every victory in the church you lead.
  11. Develop and put into practice a personal prayer habit.
  12. Date your spouse and listen to them more.
  13. 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.)
  14. Don’t feed your soul on the approval of affirmation from your congregation or social media.
  15. You have not arrived. Keep striving to improve your skills as a communicator and a leader.