By Rob Hurtgen
Pastor, your leadership capacity is being stretched beyond imagination.
Shepherding your church through the current pandemic and rebuilding when our communities return to a more typical and recognized pattern of life is going to require more of you than anyone realizes.
Scattered flocks will need to be regathered. Scared sheep need encouraging. Wolves will work to consume your flock with fear.
In the next era of sacrificial pastoring you’ll need to guard your heart and health to care for your people, win the lost, and achieve longevity in ministry.
Here are three ways to care for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health while having a lifelong kingdom impact.
1. Recognize your limitations.
You can be all things to all people to win some (1 Corinthians 9:22), but you cannot do that 24 hours a day. You need cycles of rest and recreation.
We have all kinds of limitations. We have physical limitations. We already know we can’t be in two places at once. We also have emotional limitations; all these crises in our culture have taken a toll on us, too.
There’s more I could say about our limitations, but you get the idea. Patterns of good sleep, a healthy diet, and restoring recreation are useful for more than building a full life; they’re matters of staying in the ministry.
2. Build margins; practice Sabbath.
Everyone shares God’s common grace of time. We each have 24 hours in the day. We each are given seven days in our week. No more. No less.
Don’t give into the temptation of trying to become “super pastor” in compensating for all that everyone seems to lack during our world’s current circumstances. You’ll not only shortchange yourself; you’ll also do a disservice to those you lead.
We’re charged to make the most of our time. For the health of yourself, your family, and your church you need to create some margins for work and rest.
It’s important to remember that Sabbath is more than merely resting; it’s partaking in healthy activities that bring you delight.
3. Focus on Jesus.
The charge Jesus brought against the church in Ephesus was that they lost their first love (Revelation 2:4). The church was doing well in many observable regards, but they were absent of a love for Christ.
The incredible ministry you have means nothing if you lose focus on Jesus.
The future of pastoral ministry is being written. Churches have endured crisis in the past. Churches will endure crisis in the future.
To effectively shepherd your flock all the days the Lord has granted you must know your limits, build margins, and focus on Jesus.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is the 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.