What is it that Fuels Your Soul? Do More of That.

Youth Specialties
July 14th, 2016

“Most people don’t understand that ministry is not just a job, it’s a way of life.”

These words were recently spoken to me by an esteemed colleague and friend of mine as I along with a team of other pastors sat around the table for our weekly staff meeting. Ministry is exciting, it’s life giving,  it is a privilege; but it can also be all-consuming if we are not careful. It’s no wonder the statistics on the health of the average pastor are so alarming! From basketball games, youth group, overnighters and graduation parties, a typical 9-5 job is not in the cards for youth pastors. When ministry gets to the point of consuming you, another area in your life undoubtedly suffers.

One of the things I have learned so far in my journey through ministry is the truth that the best gift you can give your congregation is yourself.

[bctt tweet=”Ministry is only life-giving when you are able to give your full and true self.” username=”ys_scoop”]

I have found that I am able to give the most to ministry when I have taken the time and attention to recharge through: accountability partners who speak truth into my life, when I regularly spend time with friends, when I am exercising and eating right, and lastly taking advantage of opportunities to care for my relationship with the Lord.

Possessing the ability to find joy outside of ministry is a gift and a tool for a long and healthy pastorate. In order to set ourselves up for success, being informed on the resources that are available today for pastors proves to be incredibly helpful as well as essential if we are to grow and continue to be informed on how best to minister in our changing culture. These resources put those extra tools in our pockets, setting us up for success.

Find soul-friends.

Some of the most freeing and life fulfilling times I have experienced in ministry have been when I have had people who could speak unbiased truth into my life and ministry. People who my husband and I can have dinner and game nights with that are full of laughter. I’m not just talking about an occasional chuckle, but I mean friends that you can really laugh with. The kind of laughter that your entire body feels from your gut to your toes. We need these people in our lives. They provide opportunities to take a load off and for your heart to become light. Jen Hatmaker in her best selling book, For the Love, calls these kinds of gatherings her Sunday Night Church. These people become our “soul-friends” if you will.[1]

Finding “soul-friends” in your life to keep you accountable in regards to care for your heart, health, family and soul is so very important. Not only do these people feed your soul but they also can give us the swift kick in our pants we all need every once in awhile. You don’t have to look far to find the disturbing statistics reporting on the unhealthy lifestyles so many pastors live.[2] Pastors are so incredibly lonely, and for most of us to be preaching about the importance of living in community with others it is amazing to read about the reality in which most pastors live. Regular self examination of your overall health can be a great way to measure whether or not you are giving your best self to your congregation and community.

A health report card.

As you check the report card on your current health, ask yourself the following:

  • Am I eating healthy?
  • Am I exercising?
  • How are family relationships at home?
  • Am I spending alone time in the Word?
  • And last but certainly not least, am I honoring the Sabbath?

Now don’t get me wrong, I can binge Netflix like the best of ‘em, but odds are if the couch is where you are spending your day off every week, you might be going back to work still feeling mentally or even emotionally drained. What is it that fuels your soul? Do more of that.

There are a handful of groups out there that are taking great strides towards responding to the trending statistics on poor pastoral health and burnout. If what you are needing is just some time away to be drenched in the Word and presence of God, a number of camps and retreat centers offer cabins to pastors at a discounted rate. Check your nearest campgrounds to see if this is something they offer, you might be surprised. Touching base with your Senior Pastor can also be a great route when seeking to keep your life centered. Ask them whether or not you would need to take time off for a spiritual life retreat for a few days. Some churches allot this freedom for pastoral staff, and sometimes if you are lucky, even the funds to aid in self care.

Christ sets this model well.

As we read through Scripture we see throughout Jesus’ life the longer He ministers and the more He is surrounded by people, the more and more frequently we see Him taking time away from the masses to be with a few of His closest friends, or to just cry out to the Lord. Luke 5:15-16 is a great example of Jesus withdrawing from the increasingly large crowds to go off alone and pray. While the crowds sought after Him for healing and to hear Him speak, He still left unfinished work to spend time with the Father.

Recently I was flying back home from a quick weekend trip with my husband. While waiting for the flight to land, I couldn’t help but notice the screen on the seat in front of me. The message that many of the passengers were mindlessly staring at said, “There’s no stop in you. Only go.” What a perfect reflection of the culture we live in! We are encouraged not to stop, not to slow down. If we do, we will be viewed as lazy.

Ministry demands a lot, but Christ demands more. That more includes us living into being the people God has created us to be, but we can’t do that if we are not taking care of ourselves. Ministry is a beautiful way of life, but only when I am utilizing the available tools to keep me healthy. May you be empowered and your soul filled with the courage and commitment today to be the person God is calling you to be!

[1] Parrot, Leslie. Soul friends: What Every Woman Needs to Grow in Her Faith. Zondervan. 2015. Print.

[2] Stetzer, Ed. ChristianityToday, 2015. Web. 25 May 2016. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/october/that-stat-that-says-pastors-are-all-miserable-and-want-to-q.html

Krejcir, Dr. Richard. Into Thy Word: Teaching People How to Study the Bible, 2007. Web. 25 May 2016. http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562

stacieStacie Jean Ballard serves at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene in Idaho as the College and Jr. High Pastor. 

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.