By Rob Hurtgen
“I feel exhausted.”
I hear that in my head and feel it in my body most Sunday afternoons. Though I have no research to back up my theory outside of the occasional article here and there, I can tell I’m not alone. For this pastor, and many others, the Sunday slumber is real.
The Sunday slumber is the time following the Sunday morning service that leaves pastors feeling exhausted. Some of the factors contributing to this feeling of exhaustion include the spiritual battle that occurs when preaching the Word.
The preacher battles to deliver a biblical message the enemy doesn’t want our people to hear. Pastors may also place a tremendous level of pressure on themselves to preach well.
Additionally, delivering the Sunday sermon expends an enormous amount of emotional and physical energy. All of those and other contributing factors can lead to post-preaching feelings of exhaustion—the Sunday slumber.
The danger from ignoring the Sunday slumber is that when you’re tired, it’s easier to be short with your family, make bad decisions, and struggle with temptation. Ignoring your post-preaching tiredness can be disastrous.
Over the years, I’ve embraced various strategies to recover and restore from the tiredness that comes from Sunday preaching. You don’t need to use these strategies each week, but consider them to be more like weapons in your arsenal.
I find these six strategies to be most helpful.
1. Know what recharges you.
If being with people restores you, then go to lunch with people from your church. If being alone energizes you, then block out some time for solitude. Know what rejuvenates you and do it.
2. Visit prospects and church members.
Preaching and then later in the day being with church friends or visiting church prospects can often recharge you. Visiting can help remind you why you were preaching that morning.
3. Take a nap.
Perhaps one of the best things you can do on a Sunday afternoon is take a nap—especially if you have a hammock. But seriously, take a nap.
You’re exhausted. God designed the body to recharge through sleep. Take a nap. Jesus did (Mark 4:38).
4. Do something active.
Sometimes restoration comes from doing something active. Go for a walk, swim laps, run, take your children fishing. Doing something active can do wonders for your emotional and psychological energy.
5. Spend time with your family and friends.
Different than visiting church members and prospects, being with friends can help restore you after a day of ministry. Laughing at the same stories that’ve been told a dozen times, sharing a meal, watching a movie, or playing a game with friends and family makes life more abundant, gives good rest, and restores.
6. Don’t make any major decisions.
Don’t resign. Don’t shave your beard or your head. Don’t decide to move. Don’t buy a new car or motorcycle. Avoid making major decisions in a state of tiredness. This pastor has regretted nearly every decision he made while tired.
For many pastors, Sunday afternoons are hard. Whether you’ve preached to 20 or 2,000, giving 100% of yourself to God’s calling and His people will drain you.
But do not fear; you’re in good company. When Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, he not only fled to a cave and asked that he might die (1 Kings 19:4), but God restored him through rest and food.
In your Sunday slumber, after the battle for the day, the Lord can restore you through rest, food, friends, and family. Relish in the rest and restoration of the Lord.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is husband to Shawn, father of five, pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri, and doctoral student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs at robhurtgen.wordpress.com.