“I have spent personally more time encouraging pastors who wanted to resign in the past 18 months than ever before in my 52 years of ministry,” said Rick Warren in a recent appearance with his wife, Kay, on the Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast. “If your tank was already half empty before these storms hit, you’re running on empty now. And some of you probably entered this crisis with little or nothing in your emotional, spiritual tank.”
Rick and Kay Warren shared with host Ed Stetzer words of encouragement and practical advice they believe is important in order for ministry leaders to continue persevering during an extremely challenging season. “You were already drained,” said Rick, “and you are the people that Kay and I care about deeply. And we care about your ministry and we want to help you through this time. Please don’t give up.”
Rick and Kay Warren’s Encouragement for Pastors
The advice Rick and Kay Warren offered dealt with how people in general and church leaders in particular can care for their inner and physical health. Said Kay, “It’s not just about our soul, but our bodies. Every part of us needs care, especially during these really, really rough times.”
“When you’re under severe stress,” said Rick, “when you’re in chronic chaos, which is what we’re in right now, set and stick with a simple routine…You need to remember that routine develops resilience, predictability creates stability in ministry and in life, structure creates steadiness.”
Following a routine includes maintaining basic boundaries like not staying up or sleeping in late. Another important part of a routine is taking regular breaks, such as going on a walk. Kay said, “What we’re learning is that you’re actually more productive if you take several five-minute breaks during your day, rather than something that is all at one time…Just know that if you’re going to be sitting and doing something for a while, it’s so much better to get up.” She also emphasized the importance of good eating habits and exercise, noting that we are all individually responsible for our own decisions in these areas.
Bible reading should also be part of a spiritually healthy routine, and Rick had a suggestion about how to add that habit more easily. “Get a Bible translation that is readable to you that you like,” he said. “I don’t care what translation—you get a Bible translation, and you put it by the side of your bed on your bed stand and you leave it open. You never close it. Why? Because a closed Bible is easy to ignore.”
Another piece of spiritual advice that Rick has is, “Stop watching cable news…The reason we’re seeing more conflict rising in congregations today is because people are spending more time with the nightly news than they are hearing a sermon on Sunday.”
Rick and Kay Warren on Dealing With Grief
Both Rick and Kay Warren acknowledged that the pandemic has been an extremely difficult period of time for church leaders. Kay said it has been more difficult for her than when the Warrens’ son Matthew took his own life. “This is not a fun time to lead,” she said. “For me personally…it’s even harder than when Matthew died…After Matthew died, we got so much support. I mean, we could do no wrong. We got so much support. Very little criticism.” That has not been the case, however, when the Warrens have spoken out about racial injustice or when Kay publicly said she had gotten vaccinated.