Last week you worked, prayed and prepped all week long for Sunday. You arrived early on Sunday morning, and poured your heart out in the sermon. Then you shook hands and hugged necks and heard “Oh, pastor, that sermon was so wonderful!”
And yet, no one responded during the invitation. You wondered if folks will even remember the message by the time lunch is over. Perhaps you even heard a snide comment or two that drown out all the good from Sunday morning.
Now it’s Monday morning and you’re sitting at your desk, staring at your computer, and wondering whether or not you have yet another week in you. If you can relate to this, pastor, let me encourage you: You are not alone. Every pastor I know has been there at some point.
Why are Monday mornings so hard on pastors? Jared C. Wilson offers maybe the best explanation in his book, The Pastor’s Justification. He writes,
The pastor and his flock are on cross-paths all week. Monday through Saturday, the laity are being drained from the pressures of daily life: jobs and families and shopping and just being human. The pastor runs counter. Monday through Saturday, he is being drained by the same daily life pressures, and besides that he is pouring himself out in grace as often as he can for the flock. But he is constantly seeking to be filled up at every available opportunity, so that on Sunday, when his people enter the house of worship empty from the week’s toil, he is full to the brim with the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, in preaching, he is broken open upon the rock of Christ that the living water of Christ might flow out freely and flood the valleys of his people. The laity starts Monday fresh, filled. The pastor starts Monday exhausted, empty. (p. 25)
While I don’t have a cure for the Monday Morning Ministry Hangover, I do have some tips for managing it so you aren’t constantly on the verge of turning in your resignation when you walk into the office.
Begin in the Word
Now, I would recommend that you do this every day, but I think on Mondays it is especially important. As Wilson said in the quote above, you are most likely empty after Sunday, and especially so if it was a particularly rough day. So, take some time on Monday to be filled with the Word of God. I use the YouVersion Bible app for my daily readings, and of the great things about it is that the app will read the Word to you. That has been especially refreshing to me on hard days.
Read Something Encouraging
In addition to spending time in the Word, I would encourage you to begin Monday with a book you enjoy. It could be some light fiction, or even an encouraging ministry book. If you’re looking for a book that will encourage you to not give up on the hard days, I highly recommend The Pastor’s Justification, which I quoted above. That book has talked me off the ledge of resigning several times.
Unless Absolutely Necessary, Don’t Make Hard Decisions on Mondays
Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but if at all possible, I’d recommend that you not make hard ministry decisions on Mondays (and especially not on Monday mornings). When we’re exhausted, we’re more prone to make bad decisions, or decisions based on emotion rather than facts. Don’t resign on Monday, and don’t fire anyone on Monday (unless extenuating circumstances are present). In most cases, delaying a decision until Tuesday won’t dramatically alter the course of the universe and you’ll probably be in a better mental and spiritual state to make the right decision.
Spend Time with Those Who Encourage You
Monday might be a good day to grab lunch with a fellow pastor just to encourage one another. It’s probably not the best day to listen to your biggest church critic for two hours. Listening to our critics is important, but I’d advise that you wait until later in the week to schedule that meeting! Take Monday to pray with and for other pastors. Take some time to encourage and be encouraged by another pastor who may be having just as rough a Monday as you are.
If you are feeling depressed and need someone to talk with, please reach out to the North American Mission Board’s pastoral care line at 1-844-PASTOR1. If you need some encouragement, please reach out to the Replant Team at [email protected]
Published September 29, 2020