Pastor to Pastor: Critical connections will help in our battle against weariness

It’s not just you. I am weary too. Every ministry context has enough challenges to wear any pastor down emotionally, physically, mentally, relationally, and spiritually. We know that perseverance is required. Remember the words of Paul, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Maybe we are not tired of doing good, but perhaps we are weary from trying to sort out all the complexities of the last two years. When COVID-19 began to change our world, I was six months into a new pastorate. Each day my list of areas of importance grew longer. However, responding to a global pandemic hadn’t made my list of considerations. But who had that on their list?

Instantly the complexities of COVID-19 and its ripple effects began to steal our attention, drain our energy, and demand action. Our local church community has suffered devastating losses due to COVID-19, heart attacks, and even a murder in the last 18 months. Absolutely layers of awful. It makes me cringe just to think about it again along with all the meetings. Oh, the meetings!

Our experiences may differ but the emotional exhaustion, decision fatigue, no-win scenarios, and sideways energy expended have left all of us depleted and weary. Confusion mixed with irrational aggression surrounding speculative issues sure has worn me out! Where are we going to find the energy to re-establish ministries when we are so depleted from trying to navigate these complexities in leadership?

Through it all I am reminded that the mission still matters and so does our leadership. In many ways we are weary as we attempt to rebuild ministries, relationships, and facilities all in the midst of collective trauma. It is hard work. It is spiritual work. It is worth it to cultivate a healthy church culture for the years ahead.

As pastors we understand the importance of basic spiritual practices, but often find that the tyranny of the urgent can steal away precious time from our own spiritual and relational health. Here are several intentional practices that continue to help steady my life during this time:

Slow down to be with Jesus

My intentional communal connection with Jesus should never be sacrificed on the altar of “I just didn’t have time to get to it today.” We have all been in crisis mode for far too long and slowing down to be in the word, walking quietly whispering prayers, journaling our experiences, and breathing deeply while looking at the horizon are all powerful rhythms we need.

Eat a meal with a trusted friend

Something special happens when we prioritize time with safe people who embrace us as a person rather than a position. I am so thankful for another pastor friend who takes the time to meet together on a weekly basis. We all need a friend who gets it. Be that friend and pray for God to send you that friend, too.

Be present and engaged with family

Our families have been impacted by the trauma of the last couple of years. They need us to be present and engaged. Turn off the phone, get off social media, take your day(s) off, use your vacation time, look your family in the eyes when you talk, ask open-ended questions, and pay attention to them. They need you!

Brother, it isn’t just you. You are not alone. Your role in the kingdom matters. Remember that the shadows of suffering cover this world and we need the light of Christ to shine through you.

As Jimmy Draper said, “Don’t quit before you finish.” We believe there is hope and healing in Jesus. We believe we can experience it and help others experience it as we abide in Christ, build healthy relationships, and care for our community.

Let’s take our weariness to Jesus and trust him to help us persevere one moment at a time.

Steven Gaither
First Baptist Church of McAllen
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