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7 Habits of Truly Joyful Pastors

The point is you weren’t called to their ministry. You may not even be where you want to be right now. But God has not made a mistake in your placement. He will use you where you are if you will allow Him to do so.

How I attempt this: Several years ago I stopped looking at statistics on my blog. I don’t even know if anyone will ever read this. (I need more material for my encouragement file, so it would be great to know if you did.) But I want to focus on why I’m doing this. I truly want to help other leaders. When I worry about readership I get distracted from what I feel called to do.

5. Supportive network.

I don’t know how you survive ministry without close friends. I really don’t. It’s amazing to me the number of pastors I hear who live life alone. They would, hopefully, never advise their church members to do that.

How I attempt this: Just this week – and not because of this post – I wrote down the friends I think I can text in a moment’s notice and they will be there for me. I’m blessed with a long list. Perhaps this would be a healthy (or sobering) exercise for you to do. But those lists take time and intentionality – and humility and vulnerability to admit you can’t and don’t want to do life alone.

6. The ability to let go of pain.

I came into vocational ministry later in my career. Frankly, one of the most shocking things to me is how hurtful people in the church can be to those in ministry. I’ve never understood it. (I like to say I keep those ALL CAPS emails too. In case the FBI ever needs them.)

I like to remind churches that as believers we must learn to worship in pain.Again, we know that joy is not formed from our circumstances. If we are going to be truly joyful pastors then we will have to refuse to let hurts, grudges, and sheer disappointment cloud our souls.

How I attempt this: I’ll be honest. This takes discipline. But the Lord led me years ago, right before I preached a message on forgiveness, that I had someone I needed to forgive. It was the man (my father) who I felt had hurt me the most. I learned in that time that “letting it go” really is a discipline we have to practice.

7. Healthy rhythms.

This includes things like having a healthy family and life balance. I like the word rhythm better than balance, because there will be seasons where things aren’t balanced.

Healthy rhythms also include things like diet and exercise. As much as possible, joyful pastors must fight to protect what matters most in our life. You have to protect your family and your individual soul. We can’t expect the church to do that for us.

How I attempt this: I’ve been shutting down on Friday afternoon through Sunday morning for years. It’s hard to get me to do much on Saturdays. I realize this won’t work for pastors with smaller staffs, but there should be sometime during the week when you are somewhat unavailable. Of course, interruptions will occur, but you can survive them if you have a healthy rhythm in between.

So, again, I hope this is helpful encouragement. As I said in the beginning, I’m not perfect at this. For joyful pastors it’s sometimes a daily – or hourly – attempt. And if you got this far and feel you need professional help never be ashamed to seek it.

I always tell my son (who is also a pastor) that it is important that we give people hope every Sunday. They can’t get that anywhere else like they can from the church. The same is true for joy. We need to be truly joyful pastors so we can serve as examples of that for the rest of the world.

Hey, check out my leadership podcast where we try to provide quick, helpful applications. I’d love to hear if you are enjoying it and any topics you would like us to cover.


This article about joyful pastors originally appeared here, and is used by permission.