How can such an amazing, exciting, honoring, respected position of “senior pastor” simultaneously be so difficult, stressful, lonely and destructive?
There is a weight that senior pastors carry that is unique to the rest of the team and impossible to describe with words. The rigors of daily leadership decisions and seemingly unending weekend message preparation has left many lead pastors feeling the burn! The following are four of the 10 rules to refreshment I shared this past year at The Orange Conference.
1. Realize that purposeful work creates refreshment.
One of the most important things I have learned about refreshment is that it doesn’t come from doing nothing.
I used to believe that in order to be “refreshed” I needed, as much as possible, to do nothing. The problem is, it’s very hard for me to do nothing. I can clearly remember getting very upset that I couldn’t do nothing. Then I would get even more stressed because I was even failing at doing nothing! What I learned is that refreshment does not come from escaping responsibilities and burdens. Furthermore, I learned that an absence of work WILL NOT automatically bring refreshment. Refreshment is not the absence of work, it is the presence of purpose!
2. Your input must keep pace with your output.
Some of my greatest refreshment on a weekly basis comes through my hobbies and creative outlets. In short, if you don’t have a hobby or outlet outside ministry, you are heading for trouble.
3. Learn to say “NO” even when you could easily say “YES.”
My model for ministry for the first 28 years of my life was that a pastor never says, “No.” You do whatever you can, for whomever you can, whenever you can. You always accommodate others, often at the expense of yourself and your family. There is absolutely no doubt that the reason so many pastors lack refreshment is because they never say NO!
Friends listen, if you never say “No,” and you try to care for everything, you will soon realize you do not have the capacity or bandwidth to care for anything. I had to spend about 40 hours and $4,000 with a counselor to discover this about myself.
My lack of refreshment centered heavily around something called “compassion fatigue.” Compassion Fatigue: Emotional stress or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others.
In my efforts to care for everyone, l found myself not really caring about anyone. Here is what I can do so easily. I can force myself to be outgoing and extroverted all day at work or all weekend when people are on our church campus. So much so that when I get home, my ability to care about the things I really care about is gone.
Compassion fatigue is for real and we must all realize we do not have unlimited capacity to care.
4. Obeyed promptings bring refreshment.
In my estimation there is no better way to be continually refreshed than to have a constant string of “obeyed promptings” in your life. The Bible is clear, throughout Scripture, that the Holy Spirit gives promptings to people.
I believe that all those who have accepted Jesus into our lives also receive Holy Spirit promptings. If you are obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God you are building HIS kingdom. This is not always easy but it is always refreshing.
If you do not obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God you are building YOUR kingdom. This also is not easy and ultimately not refreshing.
The truth is, there are only two kingdoms you can build—yours and His. And only when we build His Kingdom are we truly refreshed.
When was the last time you obeyed a Holy Spirit prompting?!?