The grind of ministry can take a toll on the health and well-being of the pastor and his family. At Care for Pastors, we help pastors and their families find balance, develop skills, prioritize ministry, and stay in a place of spiritual vitality. Here are five things every pastor can do to stay healthy:
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
On a practical level, this means knowing your own limitations. You cannot keep giving ministry to others if you are neglecting ministry to yourself.
- Take a regular day off. No excuses. You need this for your own health – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. If you let your congregation know that Friday is your day off, most of them will respect that time. You might have to remind some people that Friday is your day off (or whatever day you choose). Yes, emergencies are the exception. We all get those. But you need that day off every week in order to recharge your batteries.
- Take a regular vacation. Pastors that are unhealthy have this in common – they all fail to take regular vacation time. You and your family need this time to recharge, renew, rejuvenate, revitalize, and reevaluate. Plan it and put it on the calendar.
- Take a study break/sabbatical (one to two weeks) yearly. This is not vacation time. This is for your spiritual health. Draw near to God and let HIM refresh your spirit and renew your vision.
2. Develop a consistent exercise plan
- At least three days a week should be given to some exercise. If you neglect your physical health, it will limit your effectiveness in other areas of your life.
- Pastors that stay active physically tend to do better in other areas of their lives.
- Taking care of yourself physically is a stewardship we have received from God. Join a gym. Walk with friends. Go biking, hiking, swimming, etc. Choose an activity you enjoy and get busy doing it.
3. Secure daily time alone with God and His Word
- We cannot neglect this area and hope to succeed in ministry.
- Almost every pastor that is struggling in ministry has at some time neglected his daily time in God’s Word.
- Make an appointment with God every day and don’t let anything interrupt you. Put it on your calendar. If someone asks to meet with you, you can tell them honestly, “I’m sorry, I already have an appointment at that time.”
4. Set a regular time to invest in your marriage
- As with the other spiritual disciplines, if you neglect this one, you do so at your own peril.
- Sit down with your wife and work out a time that you can be together and talk. It can be over coffee or out to dinner or a walk in the park or a drive in her favorite part of town.
- During this time, ask these questions: a) What are you facing in the coming week? b) What made you feel loved in the last week? c) Is there any way I could help you this coming week? d) How can I pray for you this week?
I promise you, this exercise alone will pay great dividends in your relationship.
5. Make time for fellowship with other pastors
- There is no vocation like the pastorate. Only another pastor can really understand what you are facing.
- There are unique stresses and challenges in pastoral ministry and we need other pastors who are willing to come alongside us, walk with us, pray for us, and hold us accountable. Ask God to bring such men into your life.
- Join the Pastor’s Ally private Facebook group (for pastors only). Here you will find other pastors with whom you can share your struggles. They will understand your challenges, pray for you, encourage you, and support you. Sometimes they will even give you some great advice.
Let me close this blog by reminding you that Care for Pastors is a safe place you can turn when you are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of ministry life. Reach out to us at careforpastors.org