By Ronnie D. Raines
A fellow pastor once told me, “I’ve been hitting my head against the wall for years. I realize now that it hurts. I must stop this insanity.”
He left the ministry for a season.
The reason many churches lack health is because many pastors lack health. And as a result, far too many churches are declining and closing their doors.
But in Christ and in pastoral ministry, you and I can be victors, not victims.
Here are five areas of health that are important to focus on in ministry along with practical actions to take to get and stay fit as a pastor.
You have sermons to prepare every week, and Sundays come quickly. But beyond digging into Scripture for your sermon prep, what spiritual disciplines do you practice regularly?
Do you read the Bible daily? Are you praying without ceasing? Is spending moments in solitude before the Lord a regular practice for you?
If basic spiritual disciplines are missing in your life, confess this to the Lord and make a plan to get back on track.
If you’re married, how is that relationship going? Are you guilty of spiritual adultery? This happens when a pastor loves Jesus’ bride, the church, more than his own bride. It’s hard to lead and preach when your marriage is suffering behind closed doors.
If your marriage relationship has drifted, do you need to see a Christian counselor? It’s OK and right to seek counseling. Do you need a weekend getaway or an extended vacation? Are you and your spouse committed to date nights?
Date nights aren’t attending the deacons’ banquet or a Sunday School fellowship. If your marriage exists in the deep weeds, please confess your need to the Lord and seek the help that’s out there.
Are you living within your financial means? Money issues often contribute to marital disagreements. As you likely know all too well, pastors face financial emergencies, monthly bills, mortgages, and retirement concerns.
I remember being at Ridgecrest Conference Center in the mid-90s for a conference on small church growth. Many of the attendees were older in life and ministry experience. Many of them shared stories of being financially unprepared for retirement.
Hearing those sad stories touched me deeply. Do you have a budget? Are you saving for emergencies and retirement? Do you need to enroll in a financial management course?
If finances are causing pain in your life, marriage, and ministry, please confess your hurt to the Lord.
What mental health issues haunt you? Many pastors battle depression, guilt, and anxiety. If you’re suffering, maybe in silence, I appeal for you to take three steps.
- Read Dr. Tim Clinton’s book, “The Struggle is Real.”
- Visit your primary care physician.
- Seek out a godly therapist.
Sharing mental health issues is no longer taboo. If you’re overwhelmed because of mental health battles, please confess your need for help to the Lord.
When was your last physical examination? Stress, inactivity, and church potlucks affect a pastor’s physical health. Seeing a doctor annually produces many personal and ministerial benefits.
Eating a balanced diet, getting enough rest, enjoying a walk, and taking a day off increases a pastor’s health and effectiveness. If you’re afraid to visit a doctor, please confess your fear to the Lord.
Please take steps to increase your health in the above five areas. As you do, your church may increase in health, too. That’s a blessing for you, for those around you, and God’s kingdom.
Ronny D. Raines
Ronny is the senior pastor First Baptist Church, Clarksville, Tennessee.