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Take Time to Reload

Some time ago I highlighted an insightful and transparent post on “The Monday Morning Blues” by my college friend Scott Bashoor. (If I’m not mistaken, I think it was recently reprinted in The Voice magazine.) The gist of it is that pastors need to recognize and respond to the weariness that often follows a Sunday of ministry. I sometimes joke that the life-sucking gadget called “The Machine” in The Princess Bride could fairly be called “The Ministry.”

Now understand, I love the ministry. Love it. Wouldn’t want to do anything else. It’s amazing to me that I get the privilege of ministering the inspired Word of God to the people of God for the glory of God. What a precious and unwarranted calling. It’s all grace!

But ministry is at least draining, if not life-sucking. During the best of times, you’re pouring your life into others. And during the worst of time, you’re concerned about wayward members, controversies, and other challenges. Usually, you’re probably experiencing some of each. The point isn’t to whine about it or get all melodramatic—just to give some advice to my pastor-friends. If you don’t intentionally pour something back in to your soul, you’re in trouble. You need to reload. Here are a few things I’ve found profitable for Mondays, in particular:

  • Take to heart the warnings of Acts 20:28 and 1 Timothy 4:16. Begin your new week by taking heed to your own spiritual needs, that you might then be able to (a) help those under your care (per Acts 20:28) and (b) teach biblical doctrine accurately and profitably (per 1 Timothy 4:16). Recharge your own spiritual batteries, and do so on purpose. To change metaphors (yet again), think of the instructions you hear when flying on a commercial airline, and put on your own spiritual “oxygen mask” so that you can be capable of helping others with theirs.
  • Feed yourself on Monday. My most profitable times (like I had this morning) include the following:
    1. Read Scripture, probably without deep study. Just read.
    2. Read a portion of a devotional book.
    3. Read a portion of a Christian biography, reminding yourself that your struggles aren’t unique and your labors aren’t in vain.
  • Launch into followup ministry (calling guests, doing a lot of correspondence, making visits, etc.) on Tuesday, or even Wednesday if you take Tuesdays off. But wait until you’re physically rested and spiritually refreshed.
  • Pray about what was done Sunday, but don’t obsess about it. Don’t think too much about what you should have said differently, about the seats that were empty, about the conversations (or even glances) that you think were troubling.
  • Enjoy some family time—more than on a typical day, if possible.

Obviously, this isn’t always realistic. Sometimes there are crises (though probably not as often as we think), necessary meetings, etc. And some guys would say that the schedule I’ve recommended just isn’t how they function. They need to start the week with a long day of followup calls, a start on next week’s message, etc. Great. Knock yourselves out. But knowing what it’s like to “flounder” on Monday, I’ve found that it’s best for me, my family, and my ministry if I make Monday a time of spiritual reloading. Perhaps you might find it helpful to do the same.

3 Responses

  1. Good post. Thanks. As we know, everyone’s different, so what “works” for one pastor may not be as helpful for another. I decided, many years ago, to take Friday off instead of Monday. I realized that when I work 6 days (and sometimes more), Sunday is the last day of my work cycle, and I’m not likely to be at my best. So I “hit it hard” on Monday morning, getting a good start on my sermon preparation for the week, and continue to work hard through Thursday, and take Friday off to spend with my wife (now that my kids are grown), eat out, do two or three hours of yard work, read, nap. whatever. I use Saturday to do final sermon preparation, and try to preach my heart our on Sunday. I find that when I get right back into the text on Monday morning, most of the “Monday blues” I used to experience fade away.

    Greg Barkman

  2. Thanks, Greg. Helpful comment, as always. Grace to you, friend.

  3. I think that having been bi-vocational shifted my focus a little bit. I don’t consider Sunday to be a work day as if I’m worshiping correctly I find it more spiritually refreshing than taking a day off. I’m also working at not having any additional church activities on Sunday other than worship.

    Monday is back to the office to me, but all of my tasks are minor administrative, or physical labor. As you mentioned, Chris, I do spend some time in prayer, asking for God’s blessing on the previous week’s efforts. My reading also trends towards personal refreshment.

    My day “off” is Saturday, more to spend time with the kids as anything else.

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