Have you ever felt depleted? As a pastor I have. Recently I heard the president of Heritage College and Seminary located near Toronto give an uplifting talk about how pastors can refill their depleted souls. He spoke at a monthly gathering of pastors and Christian business leaders in London, Ontario, where I serve as a pastor. With permission, I share his insights below.
Rick based his thoughts on this passage in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus Himself got away from the crowds.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1.35-39)
Here are four ways Rick suggested that can refill a depleted soul.
- Disengage from ministry demands.
- This passage said that Jesus did just that. Although fully God, Jesus was also fully human and got tired just like you and I get. The Scripture says that Jesus went to a desolate place. In other words, he removed himself from the hustle and bustle of ministry life. He separated himself from the crowds.
- Question to ponder: Do you take a day off when you truly disengage? Or, do you keep yourself tethered to your cell phone or your email ‘just in case’ someone needs you?
- Seek communion with God.
- Notice that Jesus didn’t just get away from doing something (direct people ministry). But he disengaged so that He could engage more fully with His Father. We not only need to rest our bodies from the demands ministry places on us, but we need to fill our souls with spiritual nourishment.
- Question to ponder: Do you regularly engage with God’s Word simply to fill your soul? Or, do bible reading, reflection, and contemplation have an end game to give you material for your sermons?
- Build supportive friendships.
- Rick noted that in other places in the Gospels Jesus often took aside his disciples when He withdrew from the crowds. Disengaging does not mean that every day off we spend in solitude. Occasionally that’s a good idea. But God uses friends to fill our souls as well. In this post I list several qualities to look for in a safe friend.
- Question to ponder: How many close friends do you have with whom you feel safe to share your joys and sorrows?
- Focus on your God-given calling.
- Sometimes we pastors have bad weeks, really bad ones. People criticize us. Crises interfere with our study time. Offerings come in really low. When that has happened to me, I’ve taken great comfort and received renewed energy when I recall my call to ministry. I remind myself that then God calls us to vocational ministry, he provides everything we need. One simple practice has helped me do this. Two to three times a month when I plan my upcoming week, I review my personal mission statement and values. This simple practice reminds me to remember my calling when I experience a bad week. In this post I explain a process to help you refine your mission and personal values.
- Question to ponder: When was the last time you recalled your call to ministry?
Rick concluded his talk by noting that although we intuitively understand how to refuel ourselves, we often don’t do it. He challenged us to ask why we don’t. He suggested that these five issues often keep us from consistently refueling.
- We need to be needed too much.
- We undervalue our communion with God.
- We overvalue what we can accomplish.
- We confuse many relationships with deep relationships.
- We can’t stand to disappoint people.
That simple talk that day reinforced my commitment to regularly refuel my soul.
What would add to either list?