The demands on a pastor are great. They force every pastor daily to choose what will get his time, and what will not.
I have observed that this decision process subtly squeezes out three areas that many pastors would admit are not essential, but over a longer period of neglect can have significant harmful effects.
Because they are subtly neglected, when the consequences come they are hard to identify. As I come out of my time of sabbatical, I want to be mindful of these three areas:
1. Lack of sleep.
As wise and discerning as many pastors are, it is amazing the amount of us who think we can function at a high level getting one to two hours of sleep less each night than we really need.
There can be a sinful pride at work as we share “four to five hours of sleep and I’m good.” All the while, we are grumpy by 6 p.m., we are getting sick on a regular basis, and regularly give our families the leftovers in the evenings.
Be honest about how much sleep you really need, then do what you must to get your rest. I need eight hours a night. There, I’ll own it.
How about you?
2. Lack of exercise.
This becomes a most noticeable area of neglect when pastors gain a bunch of unnecessary weight. Yet, regular exercise is not solely for weight management.
Exercise is one of the best natural relievers of stress that exists. It raises your energy level and is essential for your overall health. It is amazing how crummy anyone will feel (I know I would) if they ate whatever they desired and rarely exercised.
Because of the level of stress in the typical pastor’s life, this becomes that much more of an essential aspect of the pastor’s life and harmful when neglected.