There's something that happens when the calendar flips to June for pastors:
-It's really hot outside
-The crowds seem smaller on Sundays
-Your kids are off school for the summer driving your wife nuts
-Giving goes down
-Everyone seems to be out of town
It's the "Summer Blahs" of ministry. No matter our context, the majority of our scheduling and programming centers around the school calendar of a fall and spring semester. Summer, for a lot of us, can be a discouraging time.
But it doesn't have to be. Summer can instead be a time where we refresh, recharge, and renew before the calendar turns to September. Our summers are often lighter (with the exception of VBS for most churches), and we can spend some more time doing forward planning and prayer.
1. Spend time praying - Acts 6 is where I think most of us get our ministry half right. We love the "ministry of the Word" part of pastoral ministry, where we sermon prep and preach. But the other part of the Apostles' ministry was prayer. If we're honest, most of us would say our prayer life isn't nearly where we want it to be. Over the summer, commit to spending an extra 15 minutes a day in prayer. Not perfunctory prayer. But meaningful prayer. Prayer for your family, prayer for the church, prayer for particular people, prayer for vision.
2. Recharge - Somewhere along the way we bought into this lie in ministry that we run on some kind of unlimited battery. We serve an unlimited God but we are still bound in our fragility. We get tired. We get sick. We can't run on coffee and candy. Pastor, serious question: Did you make plans to take a vacation? Another serious question: Are you taking your day off? Sabbath rest (a day off) isn't unproductive, it's faith in action. Vacation isn't a waste of money, it's nourishment for your soul.
3. Read - You know what I'm about to mention? That pile next to your desk. You've been so busy since January getting ready for Easter and all the activity of ministry that your pile has grown. Why not take some time this summer to read a few books? And not just theology while we're at it. Pick up a biography. Pick up a novel. Read for fun. Read for growth. Read for professional development.
4. Look forward - Sleep research shows that when we don't dream, we're not going to be healthy or mentally refreshed. I think the same thing applies to pastors who don't stop to look forward. Dreaming isn't daydreaming. Daydreaming is what we do to escape what's in front of us. Dreaming is something entirely else though. Dreaming is where we look ahead to what could be in the future if we're faithful to what God has called us to.
5. Reconnect - For a public role, ministry can often be lonely. When was the last time you reconnected with a friend from seminary? With another pastor in the area? With your mentors? Now the hard one... with your wife?
Pastor, you got this. You'll get through the summer blahs. Hang in there!
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.