Keeping Ahead of the Fatigue

by Brian Craig, Director of Leadership Development

Tiki_SMOften in the summer, conversations I have with pastors start with something to the effect of, “I hope you’re getting time to unwind.  I know I really need the break!”  It seems many of our pastoral leaders keep a pace of work that borders on unsustainable through the “normal” church year, and then they crash when the summer slow-down arrives.

Certainly the pastor needs to take ownership of setting an appropriate pace of ministry life.  But is it possible that some of the responsibility lies with the congregation as well?  Many pastors are wired to think in terms of their service to the congregation, but do congregations think in terms of their service to their pastors?  When congregations think about serving their pastor as well, church leaders will take several steps to help their pastors stay ahead of the fatigue factor.

  • Does your congregation provide breaks beyond simply vacation, such as a quarterly opportunity for the pastor to worship elsewhere?
  • Does your congregation provide study leave and actually make sure the pastor uses it well for renewal?
  • Does your congregation encourage the pastor to attend conferences, such as our CBOQ Reignite ministry leaders’ retreat?  Make sure the time and funding are available for this!  This year’s theme of “Discernment in Ministry” is ideal for helping reconnect to the key callings of pastors in leadership.
  • Has the congregation considered a sabbatical arrangement for the pastor(s)?
  • Does your congregation respect the time off of the pastor and the pastoral family, whether it’s vacation time or simply weekly days off?
  • Do congregation members think to do caring acts for the pastor and pastoral family, such as providing a meal or a recreational opportunity for them?
  • Are congregation members giving encouragement and checking in on how the pastor is faring in ministry, in the areas of physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health.

We have many great pastors serving our congregations.  Their continued greatness has to do with the greatness of the partnership achieved when pastor and congregation support and serve each other.  In looking to the year ahead, build in new ways to help your pastor keep ahead of the fatigue, or better still, to thrive in their shared ministry.


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