Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your statutes”, Psalm 119:83
I have been preaching through Psalm 119 over recent weeks. I love the Psalms and the refreshment they bring to my soul. I don’t think I could preach straight through them as a whole, but I love covering them in random order in between breaks of other books. A couple of weeks ago the above verse gripped me with its imagery.
A wineskin in smoke would become brittle and unusable for in practical purposes. This is how the psalmist describes his condition. I love being a preaching pastor. It is what I have been called to do. I cannot imagine not preaching the Word of God on a week-by-week basis. With this being said, I have to admit preaching every week and leading a church can be draining as it demands much from the individual.
I’m not in this for the short-term. As I have studied other pastors that are many years ahead of me, I have discovered that it takes a lot of P.M.S. (I couldn’t resist but to through a Navy term in here…”Preventative Maintenance Service” for you you non-sailors out there) to insure that we do not dry out spiritually and loose our passion for the ministry.
What can we do to keep our freshness and passion for serving in this capacity?
Take time off each day.
I read a book somewhere where the pastor understood each day to have only three parts–morning, afternoon, and evening. He attempted to only work two of the three parts each day. I don’t always succeed at this, but the thought has been very helpful to me in governing my days.
Take a Day off.
Once a week…if you can. Well, you can see that this is a tough one for me. It is just so hard to disengage. I know it is good for me, for my family, and for the church. I shoot for Thursdays, but I don’t always make the mark. In my short coming in this area, my family and I adopted a new strategy about three years ago. My grandfather-in-law lives outside of San Luis Obisbo on a 40-acre ranch. We head up there once a month for a two-day (Sunday evening through Tuesday) getaway. I love this time and has been very fruitful for my family.
Take an extended period of time of each year. I am learning to open up this time more and more. I think taking 3-4 Sundays off is ideal. This year we had a baby and didn’t go anywhere so I don’t feel like I relaxed as much as I could have, but I did manage to read about 3 books that had nothing to do with the ministry which was very rewarding! That being said, I am already looking forward to a vacation next year.
Read Biographies and non-studying type books.
I was recently reminded of the importance of reading books outside of our field of study. We should be reading a ton in preparation for our preaching. I believe in digging deep. There is no way to short cut study time for good preaching. That being said, reading on top of that can be difficult, but it is good for us to read “non-study” books and biographies. It is okay, and beneficial, to read books for fun. They will have a greater impact on you that you realize.
Pastors and exercise shouldn’t be an oxymoron. Getting your blood-flowing won’t kill you, go on…give it a shot! Some of my best sermon prep happens on runs, in the gym, or during a soccer match! I refer you to my previous blog Spiritually Fit, Spiritually Flabby if you want to know more of my thoughts on this subject.
Pick up a hobby.
I’m not much of a “hobby guy.” But in many respects I think my wife and kids are sort of a hobby for me during this time of my life. I love spending time in the pool, going to the zoo, watching ballet, practicing Spanish, going for walks, or simply hanging out. Probably the closest thing I have to a hobby is being a chaplain to law enforcement…yes, ministry you’d say, but the reality is that it is fun for me and helps me do things like shoot and blow up stuff which is hobbyish! This being said, I do think having something fun that is not ministry related is great for your soul over the long-haul.
How do you stay fresh?