Happy New Year! I hope you are as excited about 2023 as I am! The beginning of a new year is always a great time to pause, take stock of your life, seek after Jesus with a renewed passion and make big plans for your church.
In an upcoming post, I’ll focus on some things to do in your ministry as we begin a new year. But in this post, I want to discuss four simple things you can do in your personal life to make sure you’re taking care of yourself so you can care well for your family and church family.
Okay, don’t close your browser tab just yet. Let me provide a disclaimer here: I hate running. Every couple of years I’ll think to myself, “I should really take up running.” After about a week, I’m reminded why I don’t run. Because it’s awful. (My apologies to all the runners reading this!)
So, maybe running isn’t your thing. But, for the sake of alliteration, let’s allow “Run” to mean all forms of exercise. The point is that you need to do something for exercise, even if it’s as simple as taking a 30-minute walk once a day. So much about our mental, emotional, and spiritual lives are affected by our physical health, and far too many pastors and ministry leaders neglect their physical health.
Now I know what you may be thinking: “Kyle, I don’t have time to exercise. I have too much going on.” Every pastor I know is busy. I get it. But it’s not true and I’m also willing to bet the screen time tracker on your smart phone will expose it for the lie it is. More than likely, you do have the time; you’re just going to have to sacrifice something else to make it happen.
In my own life, I’ll turn 40 in May. So, I’m beginning the new to focus on my physical health so I can start off this new decade in a much healthier place.
Again, this is an area many pastors and ministry leaders neglect. You may think you’re too busy, but you need rest. Your body needs to recharge. Perhaps the most important way to rest is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. On top of this, don’t be afraid to take a short nap during the day. It’s amazing what a quick 15- or 20-minute nap can do for your sanity and ability to focus.
Along with rest comes taking time off from work. Use your vacation time. Don’t apologize for using all your vacation time. Vacations don’t have to be extensive and expensive affairs. Don’t underestimate the value of a good “stay-cation,” where you take some time off from work, turn off your cell phone (gasp!), sleep in your own bed and explore some simple and affordable options near your home.
God modeled rest for us when He designed creation, and the idea of Sabbath rest is woven throughout Scripture. As humans, we need rest. So don’t be afraid to take the time to care for yourself by resting enough. You will be a better husband, father and pastor for it!
In addition to exercise and resting, you need to develop a hobby or two (if you don’t already have one) to help unplug from the stresses of life and ministry. This doesn’t mean you need to go play 18 holes of golf a day. It does mean you need to find something that’s not ministry related. This can be exercising or reading (more on that in a bit), but it could also be something as simple as learning a new musical instrument, some simple woodworking, taking up hiking or building model cars. It doesn’t have to consume hours of your day, but you do need a healthy way to unplug and help your mind unwind.
This is one of the ways I recreate. I love reading. You should read your Bible daily, of course, but you also should read other things as well. Throughout the course of the year, I’ll read several books on ministry-related subjects. I’ll also read for personal growth, as well as for pure enjoyment. Not everything you read needs to be related to ministry. It’s OK to pick up something to read just because you like it. If you’re looking for a good novel, I highly recommend something from John Grisham, my favorite fiction author.
Focusing on these four areas in the new year will help you be a healthier pastor, yes, but it also will help you be a healthier person overall (which, I think, just might help make you an even better pastor!).
God bless you, your family and your congregation in the new year!
This post was adapted from a recent episode of “Not Another Baptist Podcast” with Kyle Bueermann and Matt Henslee. You can listen to it here.
Published January 4, 2023