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.