Ministry is tough. If you’ve been in ministry long enough, you know that dealing with the pressure of the grind is difficult. Sometimes you might even feel like you are out of balance and wonder if you’ll even make it at all. Over the years, I’ve found several things that work very well for me. I even joke that these things keep me “sane”…but the truth of the matter is, they do. These five things keep me healthy and help me stay the course. If you do these things, they will help keep you healthy (and sane) too!
1. Develop friendships that are outside of your work.
Sure, you should be friends with the people you live with and serve, but find some friends you can talk to about anything—and everything. You don’t need many—even two or three is plenty, but they can be invaluable. If you only have friends ‘inside’ the church, there’s always a dual relationship. So develop some friendships in which you can talk honestly. It’s healthy. An easy choice is to find a peer (pastor or key volunteer) in another church or community.
2. Engage in Recreation.
I have a hard time motivating myself to go to the gym, or doing any sort of recreation. I find it easier to work. And binge watch Netflix or Hulu (if I’m being honest). But the reality is that I’m better and healthier when I do engage in recreation. It actually makes me sharper, more disciplined and helps me be so much more effective in my work.
3. See a Christian counselor.
There’s no shame in good therapy. I have a couple of close friends in ministry that I do life with, but I’ve sought out a Christian counselor several times in my ministry career and have no regrets about it. It’s healthy to share your struggles with someone who can help you with them, and doing so will keep you in ministry longer!
4. Develop a personal devotional life.
I would venture to say that many people in ministry have a hard time with developing their own personal devotional life. Here’s why: You get too busy to read your Bible. Or you ‘cheat’ and make your sermon or lesson prep your devotional time as well. Stop that! God loves you for who you are, not for what you do.
5. Develop interests outside of your work.
I talk to people in ministry every week. One of the questions I like to ask them is what they do with their free time? Almost every person I ask (no kidding here) laughs and says, “What free time?” Seriously people, get a life. One thing I love to do is travel (especially exploring cities I’ve never been to). Develop a hobby and allow yourself some time (we’re talking a few hours weekly) to engage in that hobby. Your work is of uber importance, but if you create space for your heart and mind to engage in something you enjoy, you’ll live a happier, richer life.
How are you experiencing the pressures of ministry? Are you dealing with it in a healthy way?