A Pastor’s Exhaustion

Sundays and Mondays are emotional days for teaching ministers. Sunday is the culmination of hours of preparation and investment into a message to share with God’s people. Unless you serve in a speaking or teaching ministry on a regular basis, most can’t fully appreciate or understand the drain. The “drain” is the emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion a minister experiences once the speaking ministry concludes for the week. It is very real. You’ve given everything you have to give; running on the adrenaline, excitement, and passion for God’s message. Once the task is complete, the exhaustion is fully realized.

In my case, I typically don’t sleep well on Saturday night because of a “racing” mind. Rarely is there a Saturday night outing in our family (even if the Rockets are in town). Most Saturday evenings are spent at home resting for Sunday. I speak twice on Sunday morning in two diverse settings; it is exciting, unique, challenging and enjoyable. By noon, after the speaking is done, there’s a weariness that takes hold. It’s hard to explain, unless you’ve been there. Much of what you’ve worked for the previous week is finished. It is out there good, bad, or indifferent. You didn’t cut down an acre of trees or run a triathlon; you just feel like it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am doing and enjoy what I’ve been called to do. This is just part of the occupation.

Healthy ministers practice constructive habits to refuel both before and after the “drain” is experienced. Appropriate ways to refuel need to be incorporated into one’s routine. How do you rest? How do you play? How do you renew? Discovering and practicing refueling behaviors will help to produce a healthier minister. In order to be effective long term, I must recognize the reality of the “drain” and develop appropriate systems that refuel my life. One thing I learned long time ago, you can’t give if you have nothing to give. If I’m going to give hope in this life, I must be convinced and thriving in that hope.