Whether you are thinking about pastoring, just getting started or are have been at it a long time, here are 3 pieces of friendly advice I’ve picked up after 27 years of being just called and crazy enough to keep doing it…
“Young man, I don’t know what you do for a living, but you either learn to love what you do or die a young man.” Those were the words an ER Doctor told me after diagnosing a kidney infection, kidney stones, an ulcer, etc. I was a wreck and just fell apart. And, it wasn’t in the middle of a board meeting, either. No, I was actually trying to take some time off going to a St. Louis Cardinals ball game with my family. Too little, too late. Instead, I ended up sick in a bathroom and then half passed out on the sidewalk waiting for my wife to get the car and find the nearest hospital. It took no time for them to discover that my system was all out of whack. The doctor nailed the diagnosis. I was stressed out… way out. I was too embarrassed to tell him I was a pastor, paid to model and preach the abundant life that comes from following Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Although I would have to learn this lesson again (and again)… this was Lesson 101 in learning to manage myself well.
Leading as a team is essential for sustained success in life and leadership. However, while you should have individuals and teams in place for both accountability and encouragement, they are not ultimately responsible for your health. Only you can manage you in a holistic way. I’ll shoot straight, you will be to blame if and when you burn out spiritually, emotionally, relationally and/or physically. Only you can pace yourself, only you can take time off, only you can worship daily, only you can get adequate rest, only you can eat right, only you can exercise, and only you can have a life beyond your title. Bottom line? Only you can lead you. Ministry is hard, and that’s an understatement. Then again, welcome to planet earth. No excuses. Determine now to live for the long haul and lead yourself well.
Leading yourself is my first piece advice for both rookies and veterans of ministry life.