Regardless of how well or how anointed the Sunday morning time of worship is, for ministers the time after can be a very draining time. All of the prayer and preparation and excitement that took place during the week as he readies himself for the worship time builds up a lot of adrenaline. Art Azurdia noted once that every time a preacher preaches the Word of God, he loses a little piece of himself every time. So, like Elijah who had been used of God firsthand to defeat the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel found himself in a ‘valley’ soon after when he heard that Jezebel was furious and put a bounty on Elijah’s head. Elijah’s response? Worrying about his situation and aggravated at God for putting him there. Many pastors struggle with the same issue.
So what should pastors do? I cannot give a blanket prescription for this, but I say this to the pastor: Preacher, know thyself! Here are some options:
- Rest/sleep. For some, this is recommended, especially if you have an evening service or if you plan on being any good to your family for the rest of the day. Your body has a way of letting you know if you need sleep or at least rest. There are times when I would be sitting and watching my Bengals play football in the afternoon that I would inevitably miss the 2nd quarter, halftime, and half of the third quarter because I couldn’t stay awake. My energy tank was empty.
- Run/walk/move around: This works for me. I find if I nap in the afternoon, I never shake off that tired feeling, and it shows up during the Bible studies on Sunday nights. This past Sunday, while everyone else crashed, I took my dog and went for a three mile walk on the trails the city puts down near my house (ah, Denver, and it’s encouragement to get outside). It helped greatly! My blood was moving, I had Keith and Kristen Getty on my iPod, and enjoyed the quiet time of prayerwalking.
- Relax, don’t obsess: When the adrenaline is gone and that ‘valley’ sets in, every bad thing that comes along is magnified. You can have 99 positive comments, but you will obsess about the one negative one. You may fret over how you put something during the sermon, hoping no one took what you innocently meant wrong. The molehills become mountains! While it’s good to evaluate what you said (and yes, I do recommend listening or even watching your sermons on Monday), don’t obsess.
- Read: This helps keep your mind alert—and for some, this is a great way to rest, get your mind on something else productive (meaning that if you’re going to read something, read something of substance—don’t try to escape).
- Rejoice. Rejoice that God used you to minister His Word to His people and His creation on that Sunday! There is such a trust factor when preaching—for most preachers don’t really know how it ‘went’ when they preach, but we trust God that it will not return empty but will accomplish what it seeks to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11-12).
- Ready yourself. Your next preaching time is coming soon, be it a worship service, funeral, wedding, or special speaking engagement. “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).