I just took three Sundays in a row off from the pulpit at New Life Church and it may have saved my life. That may be a bit dramatic, but let me explain why I am not the speaker at New Life every Sunday.
Sermons on the weekends are not just 30-minute talks. A 30-minute message drains as much emotional energy as the average 8-hour workday. If a pastor has to speak more than once each weekend, the emotional drain is multiplied and if there is not a break from speaking, significant emotional and physical health is often compromised.
The elders at New Life are a group of guys who not only oversee the spiritual health of our fellowship, but also help me maintain a healthy balance between ministry to the local church and personal health. We have agreed that I should speak at New Life at least 36 weekends each calendar year. That’s an average of 3 out 4 weekends each month. The remaining weekends, I have staff, some members of the fellowship and some pastors from other churches teach.
I am not whining about my job, but I am being candid. Pastors who speak more than 40 weekends a year, with multiple weekend services are headed for burnout. There may be a handful of Superman pastors who can do this long-term, but there is a long list of those who have tried and have ended up losing their families, their health, or worse, their own spiritual vitality. I do not want to be on that list.
I miss New Life when I am gone, but I have to trust that I am not the only person who can teach Scripture. I believe in the power of team and I believe the church is strongest when a multitude of voices are heard on Sundays.
I will be back at New Life this Sunday and I am fired up to talk about Ephesians for the next several weeks, but I will miss some Sundays and I do not apologize for my absence. I am running a marathon and want to be an old pastor who finishes the race well rather than a young foolish one who is convinced his preaching is all that a church needs.
June 14, 2010 at 4:40 pm
Brady, thanks for your honesty! I preach one service per Sunday in a mainline denominational church. As part of our “terms of call,” we’re automatically given at least 6 Sundays off a year, and I take every one of them. And believe it or not, I know pastors who don’t, who feel as if Rome would burn if they were gone. A pastor’s spiritual health is so important, and taking time away from the pulpit is vital! Thanks for reminding us of that! Blessings on your ministry.
June 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm
Oh, and even with those 6 Sundays, there are still those in my congregation who feel I’m gone TOO much!
June 14, 2010 at 4:50 pm
i totally agree!!! Now if I can find someone to step in and give me a break from the daycare I would be happy. For now Im working 13-14 hr days 6 days a week by myself with 7 kids not including my own teenager. Sense the Lord called me to teach his word to these little ones, i know i can do it but man I need help sometimes 🙂 Thanks for sharing
June 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm
I have been very blessed by reading your blog for the past months, thank you for sending us these great insights on ministry.
When I read this a thought came to mind, Jesus, who was all powerful God took times to rest and be away from the public eye, to pray and be in communion with God and if He needed to rest who are we to think that we need to be working all the time.
As a person working towards Pastoral Ministry I really appreciate the things that are stimulated in my mind when I read your blogs and listen to your messages.
June 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Thank you for speaking truth in love! My first Sunday attending New Life was your first Sunday as Senior Pastor and I have been so blessed by you! As a Preacher’s daughter myself, I’d like to say thank you for valuing your own Spiritual health and the health of your family. May God refuel you and yours!
June 18, 2010 at 8:50 am
All I have to say is a big AMEN!!!
My husband is a pastor here in GA and I see how wiped out he is after each Sunday service…blessed but exhausted.
I think it also keeps the perspective that God is too be glorified, HE is the one who has all the awnsers not the pastor!!
Thanks for being our LORD’s tool in Colorado!!