Written by Randy MacDonaldI recently had the great honor to meet with groups of pastors and church leaders across Canada from various denominations. One emotion common amongst all of these pastors and leaders was that ministry life is difficult and many of them felt very, very tired.
I personally know this feeling far too well from my time as a pastor. There are demands flying at church leaders from all directions, and when we look back at the end of the week or at the end of the month we often don’t see a lot of measurable progress.
At one of the meetings I recently had with pastors, I asked them to share a little about their journey and stories of being in ministry. The majority of the conversation came from leaders sharing from their hearts about the battles they face. Tears began to flow as brothers and sisters came around each other and prayed for strength for the battles.
I tell you this story because I don’t see this often. For the most part when we get together as leaders, we put on our happy face and try to hide some of the wounds and stresses we carry. It’s not uncommon to meet pastors who smile and say things are going great, only to find out later that they have dropped out of ministry shortly thereafter because the burdens they carry have become too much and they feel too burned out and tired. It breaks my heart to see gifted men and women leaving the calling that God has placed on their lives in this way.
So, I’m on a mission, a mission to talk to as many church leaders as I can. And every time I meet a pastor or leader, all I want to do is speak wisdom and blessings into their life, support them in their journey and tell them, “Stay strong in the battle.”
Scripture tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion waiting to devour us, and we see evidence of this all around us. And the epicenter of his attack is church leaders and their families. That’s why every pastor and church leader needs to focus on some crucial areas in their lives that are prone to being attacked.
Today, as we are on the threshold of a new ministry season and one of the busiest times of the year for many churches, I want to share with you the top three areas that I feel are foundational starting points:
- Care for your personal spiritual life. Take time every day to breathe in deep gulps of the spirit so you can lead effectively based on God’s strength. We need to remember our first love. The people of Israel lost track of this and it cost them dearly. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, and have dug their own cisterns…” (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV).
- Care for your relationships with your spouse and children. One of the main conversations I have with clergy families is that very often their families feels like they come in second to the needs and responsibilities of the church. I talk to wives who are choking back tears because they feel abandoned, and I hear kids say all they want is to be a family again. So please, take some time to put your family ahead of the constant and endless demands of the church. 1 Timothy 3:4 says: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.”
- Set time in your schedule for both these areas! These changes in your lifestyle don’t just happen; you have to be intentional about setting time in your schedule to make space for these changes. Create appointments in your calendar that cannot be changed no matter how busy ministry life gets. Even Jesus took several opportunities to step away from the crowds of ministry. Mark 3:7 says: “Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.”
This fall, you and other pastors and church leaders across Canada are about to enter the busiest time of ministry. So I ask you a question: Are you tired or maybe burned out?