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4 Ways to Manage Pastoring Highs and Lows

Pastoring can be an emotional roller coaster at times.

You have a great Sunday, and then the critics seem to come out on Monday morning. (Or Sunday walking out of church.)

You have your week planned and numerous crises happen in the same week—and your “day off” is spent part of the day preparing for Sunday. (And don’t they seem to come around often.)

It seems you can never get ahead and you’re always playing catch-up.

It’s life. It’s ministry. It’s normal. (And it’s not just pastors.)

Some days are always better than others, but learning how to deal with the highs and lows is a major key in sustaining yourself for ministry long-term.

How do we do that?

Here are four suggestions that help me:

Find your rhythm—You’ll be healthier and happier when you find the balance to your life. When you know the right amount of sleep. When you get an exercise and healthy eating plan. When you learn how to say no to things you simply can’t do or someone else can do better than you. I also find checklists keep me on task. Figure out what works for you and you’ll be in a better rhythm when the harder seasons of life and ministry come. By the way, interruptions aren’t as big an interruption when you plan as if they are normal.

Lean into others—You are not alone. Let me say that again. You are not alone. Think of the story of Elijah (1 Kings 19) and remember—others are praying for you, God has a plan and He cares for you! Be willing to humble yourself, be vulnerable and ask for help when needed. Even see a counselor periodically if it will help. There’s no shame in that. But surround yourself with people who have access into the deepest parts of your life and the freedom to say the hard words you need to hear.

Become a better delegator—Drop the right to control everything. If I could, I would say that to every pastor. The body is well-defined in Scripture. There’s a hand—a foot—a tongue—many parts. Don’t try to be them all. In fact, you can’t be and weren’t designed to be. Be intentional about allowing others to share the burden. That’s good advice not just for Moses—it’s good for you. And it builds leadership in others that could be the discipleship encouragement they need.

Keep the vision ever before you—Our mission as a church is “Leading people to Jesus and nurturing them in their faith.” I inherited that when I arrived, but it meshes well with my passion for ministry. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. When I’m having a bad day, I go back to what I love doing. I intentionally lead. I nurture. I help build disciples. It always fires me up to see someone get more excited about Jesus!

It’s true for all of us, but maybe especially in ministry. We seldom know all the good we are doing. It keeps us dependent on God. My guess is you’re doing better than you think you are, and I’m sure of this—your faithfulness will one day be rewarded.

Ministry is hard. It’s even harder when you aren’t prepared. Take some time now and consider how you are responding to the demands of ministry, how you can improve, and develop a plan to address any concerns you uncover.  

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.