Do you know which pastors struggle the most with burn out? It’s actually not pastors of large churches. It’s pastors of small churches. If you’ve ever pastored a small church you understand why. You’re expected to be everywhere and take care of everything. And if you’re not, well, then you’re just not a very good pastor. It’s these unrealistic expectations that are placed upon pastors and church leaders that lead to anxiety, stress, or even worse. It shouldn’t be that way. You shouldn’t let it. Here are a few ways you can maintain a healthy schedule.
- Take at least one day off each week, two if you’re able. If God thought it was necessary to take a day to rest, then so should we. Pick one day a week that you’re not in the office, you’re not at the church, you’re not on call, and you’re not available. Let the deacons or elders bear the burden on that day. Once they experience that a time or two, they’ll probably stop being so hard on you. You can always have one of them call you in case of a real emergency.
- Take at least two weeks of vacation a year, more if they’ll let you. You need the break, and if you don’t think you do, your family does. Don’t feel guilty about it. It gives you time to spend with your family, time to rest and refresh, and it gives someone else the opportunity to fill your role while you’re gone. You’re not just vacationing; you’re equipping someone else for ministry.
- Don’t preach more than 46 times a year. Give someone else the opportunity to speak. This helps prepare future preachers. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to observe what everyone else is experiencing on Sundays, which should make you a better preacher. Plus, people get tired of hearing you. Just kidding…kind of.
- Limit your evenings away from home. For most of you, I know that evening meetings are necessary from time to time. What shouldn’t be necessary are multiple evening meetings during the same week. If you’re away from home more than three nights a week for ministry-related things, that’s too much. And yes, that number includes your mid-week service and any small groups you may attend. It’s not healthy for you or your family.
- Try your best to never take work home with you. I know this is really difficult, especially if you’re a preacher. But, when you’re working at home, you’re not engaging with your family. Your family will notice this, and over time there’s a high likelihood that they will develop resentment because of it. Consider this your warning. For you who are bi-vocational, I highly recommend picking one night a week that you prepare your sermon. The more nights a week it takes, the less your family gets of you.
How do you maintain a healthy schedule? Or do you? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get more posts like this delivered to your inbox each week.