There’s a reason you can find thousands of books, blogs and podcasts on leadership:
Leading people is hard in any organization, and especially in the church.
Many people believe preaching and teaching are your only duties. (These people obviously have never been involved in church leadership.) In addition to sharing God’s word, you deal with hurting people, broken marriages and other life crisis situations regularly. You have the complicated task of leading a combined workforce of paid staff and volunteers of all ages and many different giftings.
During my 16 years as a lead pastor, I remember coming home from work completely empty countless times.
Consistent exposure to life crisis and the everyday pressure of leading a church can rob pastors and leaders of their personal vitality. It’s like starving to death in a grocery store. You feed everyone but yourself.
Vitality Myth: If I take care of everybody else, God will take care of me.
Vitality Fact: I am the only person who can take care of me [and my family].
When I coach ministry leaders, I encourage pastors to review these eight personal vitality areas at least twice per year:
Your prayer life must be deeper than what happens on Sunday or during the week at staff meetings. Jesus modeled personal prayer time over and over in the Gospels. It is critical to your spiritual health.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12
Staff friendships are valuable; but there is also value in having friends who aren’t on staff, or even involved in ministry, for that matter. Their perspective is both different and helpful. Leaders need godly friends who will listen, mentor and speak truth. Every pastor needs a place to hang their pastor hat and just be themselves.
“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get into trouble.” Proverbs 13:20
There’s a difference between spending time with family and investing time in family. Your calendar should include intentional plans for investing in your loved ones, especially your spouse.
Sunday mornings provide a worship opportunity for pastors, but that shouldn’t be the only opportunity. There’s a difference between private worship and public worship. When we worship Jesus, we receive joy that results in spiritual strength that helps us endure.
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
Not going to work doesn’t necessarily result in rest. Rest requires an intentional “letting go” and a freedom of the mind. There are 70+ Bible verses that talk about rest. Jesus himself demonstrated the importance of setting boundaries for rest throughout the Gospels.
When leaders stop having fun, they stop being fun. The Bible stresses the importance of enjoying life. Having fun enhances creativity and imagination and can impact our job performance. What you consider fun is personal to you, but you should take it as a bad sign if you can’t immediately answer the question, “What do you do for fun?”
“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13
Good leaders are continuous learners. When leaders stop learning, they quickly hit their leadership lid. There are lots of ways to keep learning—the Bible, books, podcasts, conferences, etc.—and what you choose should fit your wiring. This isn’t only about building a successful ministry, but also about leading a successful life.
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9
It’s hard to lead when your physical health is shot. Smart leaders understand the importance of exercise and diet. Finding a workout friend to partner with helps bring accountability and consistency. Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg to learn how to develop healthy rhythms for your life.
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 1 John 1:2