The transition from associate to solo pastor caused me to feel far more responsibility for this vulnerable church than I had known possible. I couldn’t sleep through the first month of “it’s all on me now.” Everything seemed major. Slowly, I forced myself to pray through and choose what I believed were God’s best priorities and practices for me in this time and place and let the others go.
2. Establish “No” Zones
Because women also tend to be more focused on the big picture, we see all the things that need to be done—all the things. We think, If no one is doing that, I must jump in and make sure it gets done. But what happens if you don’t?
I assume you love your people and would truly move heaven and earth for them. But sometimes churches and pastors can be codependent. (Can I get an amen?) Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is tell them, “I can cut another priority to do that, or you can use your gifts and talents to do it yourself.” I do want to hear people’s complaints. But church members know my rule: Don’t bring me a complaint unless you also bring me a solution in which you plan to take part. These are opportunities for them to take leadership and succeed.
3. Guard Free Time
If you’re exhausted by Sunday afternoon, it could be time to reevaluate your schedule. In Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen insists that we should be resting in order to start work afresh, not resting because our work has drained us.
The time-honored day off for pastors is Monday. For me, however, that didn’t make sense. Monday is my most productive day. I love hitting the ground running on Mondays. Why would I want to take away one of my best work days? So, I take off Fridays and Saturdays. On Sunday, I am refreshed and ready to head into Monday with energy. I’m not alone in this switch. Recently, pastoral coach Brian Jones offered the same suggestion. Find a schedule that works to give you refreshment, regardless of tradition. Let people know you will not be answering phones, responding to emails, or putting out fires on your days off. Then, don’t.
4. Get Away
Being a super introvert, I need more recharging time than most people. Both my husband and I have jobs that are demanding, so physically leaving the area is sometimes the only way we can rest. I am not full-time, but my compromise is that I often work full-time for several weeks and then take more vacations.