Pastoral ministry is full of stress. The past year has been particularly stressful for many church leaders as the world has faced a global pandemic, racial unrest, and unique economic challenges. For many pastors, the world has turned upside down. Burnout has become rampant among church leaders.
But there’s hope. Last week I gave you the first five of 10 biblical actions—what I’m calling “10 commandments of emotional health”—that can help you recharge and refresh during any stressful season.
Last week I urged you to . . .
- Show grace to yourself and others. (James 4:6)
- Start and end each day refueling your soul. (James 1:21)
- Set and stick to a routine. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
- Reduce your media consumption. (Matthew 6:22-23)
- Schedule a daily time to connect with the people you love. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Here are the next five actions you need to take to avoid burnout.
Share your feelings instead of stuffing them. (Galatians 6:2)
Feelings are meant to be felt—not stuffed. You have emotions during these stressful periods because you’re made in the image of God. They are neither good nor bad. They are simply emotions.
Paul gives us a great example of sharing our feelings instead of stuffing them in 2 Corinthians 1:8, when he writes, “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living” (NCV).
Pastor, if the greatest Christian next to Jesus could be open about his emotions, don’t you think you can as well?
Sharing your feelings leads to health. It’s crucial during a stressful time.
Seek advice before making major decisions. (Proverbs 15:22)
When you’re under stress, your brain power drops to lower levels. You’re never thinking your best when you’re under constant stress. You simply can’t access the smartest part of your brain during these tough periods. You’re much more likely to make bad decisions. That’s why it’s wise to check with others when you’re making major decisions while under stress.
Proverbs 15:22 reminds us: “Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (CSB).
Schedule renewal breaks throughout your day. (Isaiah 40:30-31)
Neuroscience is showing us that it’s much better to take multiple short breaks throughout the day rather than one long one. Your productivity will actually increase if you take five-minute breaks throughout your day. We don’t need a long time to recharge, but we need multiple breaks to recharge emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It isn’t much different than what you do with medicine. For example, you don’t usually take one large pill when you’re sick. Instead, you take smaller pills two or three times a day.
Figure out what renews and recharges you. Maybe it’s reading, gardening, or shooting hoops—and try to take several of these breaks daily.
Serve someone struggling more than you. (Proverbs 11:25)
No matter how much you’re struggling right now, someone always has it worse. For your own mental and emotional health, you need to get the attention off yourself and onto someone else’s pain. You need to give back and recognize that life doesn’t revolve around you.
Pastor, you’ll find many promises in Scripture about this. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (NIV). When you serve others, God refreshes you.
Control what’s controllable, and trust God for the rest. (James 2:22)
God is active in your mental, spiritual, and emotional health. He wants you to make wise choices based on his guidance from the Bible and through prayer. And then, when you encounter something out of your control, you can surrender it to God and trust him to work it out for good.
It’s easy to go to extremes with this. For instance, you can say it’s all up to God and become passive to the point where you do nothing. On the other hand, you can act like God doesn’t play a part in your life and assume everything depends on you.
Find a balance that helps you recognize what’s in your control and then make wise decisions. You can’t control the circumstances of life, but you can choose how you will respond—and that will make all the difference. God is always there to help you make that choice.
If you missed the first part of this article, you can read it HERE.