12 Ministry Habits to Keep You Sane (Part 1)
By: Chris Maxwell
(This post was adapted from the February 2014 issue of Encourage magazine. Portions of this story are from Chris Maxwell’s book, Pause for Pastors. https://www.iphc.org/sites/default/files/Encourage14-02-Feb-B.pdf)
Ministry can be extremely rewarding, but it can be equally devastating if you don’t develop healthy habits and take care of yourself. Throughout my years as a local pastor I tried to develop habits that would keep me rested, balanced, and emotionally healthy. I hope this practical advice will help you become a more effective leader:
1. I found support in an accountability group. While pastoring in Florida, I met monthly with four other pastors. We didn’t wait until we had time to meet. We made time. Twice each year we tried to leave town for retreats of conversational and intercessory therapy. My friends’ listening ears healed my hurts. Their rough instructions kept me from deeper sins. I needed true friends who could relate to my life and dare me to live for Christ instead of for Chris. Through laughter, tears, hopes, and prayers we rested from the weight of pastoral performance. This relational medication healed us and prevented deeper diseases of burnout, sin, and conflict.
2. I took Mondays off. Getting away from the office and mowing grass, reading, walking, sitting still in silence, and listening to music felt like windows opening to a fresh breeze. My time away from church business helped me enjoy church business even more. By regularly stepping back from the white noise of ministry, I could better listen to God’s voice.
3. I made time for family. In my early years of youth ministry, I watched too many teens feel worthless because their dads didn’t show up to see their baseball or basketball games. I didn’t let that happen in my own family. If I couldn’t coach my sons’ games, I showed up to cheer. I took them to practices and games. My wife and I wanted to be our boys’ biggest fans.
4. I rarely discussed church issues at home. My family did not need to know the gritty details of what was happening at work. It’s impossible to completely separate home from work, but the church climate should not control the temperature at home.
5. I had windows in my office door. By allowing others to see what happened in my office, I acted in healthier ways and protected the church. And I was always careful about counseling women. In our current legal climate, nothing inappropriate actually has to happen for the church to face serious risk because of a rumor.
6. I made prayer a priority. The Bible says we have not because we ask not. Matthew 7:7 says that if we knock on the door it will be opened; if we seek we will find; if we ask we will receive. Do you believe this? My staff’s early morning prayer meetings may not have been convenient, but I have no regrets. The few who chose to show up and seek God changed things. Because of their dedication, I didn’t feel so alone.
(Numbers 7 through 12 will appear in Part 2 on Thursday.)
About the Author
The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry… Read More