Watch the ‘Holy Hangovers’
* 80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
* 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave ministry within the first five years.
One popular Christian speaker has asked 100,000 Christians: ‘Is there anyone present who has never been depressed?’ He has never had anyone raise their hand in the affirmative. I recently talked about this with both our church staff as well as about 60 visiting missionaries, because ministers are particularly susceptible to the ‘holy hangover.’ The long hours, highs and lows of life, always having to be ‘on’, spiritual warfare, unexpected criticism, etc. are just a few of the reasons thousands of ministers leave the ministry every year. (Note – if you are a Senior Pastor, you really need to read the 9/21 and 9/14 blogs by my friend @Clayton King.
A lot of ‘super spiritual’ people say that it’s ‘carnal’ to even feel really low. While staying there may be, being there occasionally joins the ranks of some of God’s best (Moses – Numbers 11:15; Jeremiah 20:7, 14). One of the most instructional characters though is Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-12. In this story you see two key things God did for Elijah that need to happen when you are down.
1. Get Physically Refreshed
Elijah was exhausted. He’d been fasting, preaching, calling fire down from heaven, challenging a nation to repent and then he walked 100 miles. The dude was wiped out! So in verses 5-8 God gave him some food and rest. He cooked breakfast for him and made him take a nap (my wife calls this the ‘Baptist hour’).
God made you at least dichotomous – your physical does impact your spiritual. If you don’t get enough sleep, your diet is bad and your exercise is minimal, it will affect your spiritual. If you are a Christian leader, this truth is for you too. You are not superman/superwoman, and God never promised to bless your neglect! Although there are a few lazy Christian leaders, most Christian leaders I know have a deep sense of calling and work very hard. You have to rest! The longest command in the Ten Commandments is the one having to do with rest. God said take a Sabbath…to not do so is sin! Many ministry leaders run at an unsustainable pace. We often excuse it by saying, “The devil never takes a day off…why should I?” The last time I checked the devil isn’t supposed to be our example.
2. Get Spiritually Refreshed
God got Elijah alone and spoke to him (verses 9, 12). 70% of pastors said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons. This is so dangerous and can lead to being a ‘business associate’ with God rather than a disciple who is walking close with the Savior. Without a doubt, the number one responsibility a pastor has is to cultivate a vibrant relationship with Christ. Everything else in his ministry will flow from this.
How long has it been since “The Word of the Lord came” to you? Not for sermons, lessons, etc., but for you? It would be a shame if we heard from Twitter, texts, voice mails, Facebook, but didn’t’ get a word from the Lord. Make sure you are hearing from Him about you each day. I promise, He is talking.