How to stay healthy in the ministry

By Alan Briggs

A few years ago I felt the itch to do something I had never done before. After cultivating the hard Colorado ground in my yard, composting throughout the winter and grabbing a few packets of seeds, I developed one of the healthiest habits I’ve ever had—gardening. It started as an experiment, but after just one harvest I had discovered a powerful way to connect with the Father. He taught me more in the soil along the back fence during those summers than I could have ever learned in a class or conference. He taught me how to rest and how to enjoy His good gifts. The truth is that leaders are good at feeling guilty and can be driven by that guilt to perform. We can always make one more call or squeeze in one more meeting. Yes, we work hard, but we also forget that even when we aren’t working God still is. We squeeze every minute out of our week, but we forget to enjoy every minute of our off time. Maybe it seems counterintuitive, but the cost of an enjoyable pursuit outside of our work is far less than the cost of neglecting such a pursuit. HOBBIES ARE IMPORTANT Hobbies remind us we are humans, not simply producers. We have limits and boundaries, but we also need to relax. Hobbies help us connect with God and enjoy His creation in the very unique ways He has wired us. Hobbies feed our souls. In our constantly-changing world there is great pressure to have one eye on God’s Word and one eye on the latest media feed. Most church leaders I meet are good learners, but many of them struggle to engage and enjoy God’s simple gifts. Hobbies remind us that we need to have fun. The weight church leaders carry for their congregations can rob us of joy if we let it. If we are to be people marked by joy we need to rest in God’s sovereignty and find healthy ways to have fun with our family and friends. Hobbies help us connect with people. You can bet your congregation wonders what their pastor does on a Friday night or on their vacation. Hobbies are one of the greatest ways to invite others into your life, and you can make your hobbies intentionally intersect with those outside the church. WHAT HOBBIES FIT YOU? Tangible Hobbies. As spiritual leaders we rarely get to accomplish something tangible. Working with your hands in wood working, landscaping or gardening can give you a new sense of satisfaction. Adventurous Hobbies. Rock climbing, water skiing, mountain biking or even hunting turkey can all provide healthy opportunities for adventure and keep us from looking for it in the wrong places. Creative Hobbies. We all have an artistic heart, even if it’s a little buried. It’s never too late to experiment with photography, painting, playing the guitar or smoking brisket. Athletic Hobbies. A hobby that keeps you in shape such as soccer, basketball or racquetball can provide you with exercise and community for decades to come! Social Hobbies. If regularly connecting with friends fills your tank, try playing a round of golf, sampling international cuisine, starting a Monday Night Football group or trying the latest coffee brew methods with buddies. Reflective Hobbies. Leaving the cell phone at home and getting into creation can be one of the most refreshing ways to Sabbath. Hiking, fishing and backpacking can be some of the greatest spiritual retreats you’ll ever experience. Whatever hobby finds your interest, make sure you understand how important it can be to your ministry, family and well being. For busy leaders it will take some investment and intentionality, so you and those who depend on you need to understand the boundaries you’ve set around your precious downtime. They all need to understand it’s not only for your good–it’s also for their own. *This post originally ran on Send Network on May 21, 2014

Published July 23, 2015

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Alan Briggs

Alan Briggs, his wife Julie & their 4 kids live in Colorado Springs. He has pioneered several processes for equipping leaders. He is the Director of Frontline Church Planting where he equips disciples, leaders and church planters to live on mission. He is also the Multiplying Pastor at Vanguard Church and the author of “Staying is the new Going; Choosing to love where God places you”. He is praying for a major movement of God in Colorado. @AlanBriggs