When the Personal Well Runs Dry

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Pastoring can be very challenging at times. We are expected to always be ‘on’. To always be prepared to deliver a key thought, sermon, devotional, homily. Most times, I’ve been able to keep up. Unlike many of my colleagues, I enjoy speaking / teaching. It comes naturally to me, always has. Even still, there are times when I am spent, emotionally, spiritually or physically. In those moments, I still have to work. I’m still expected to contribute.

I have had elders and lay preachers tell me from time to time, “Pastor, don’t schedule me to preach for the next couple of months. I’m going through a rough time with X and I’m just not feeling inspired or feel like I could contribute to the church.” There have been times when I wished I could do the same.

When you’re running on empty

What can you do when that is how you are feeling? How can we find the strength to continue when we aren’t feeling right?

I’d like to suggest some ideas. If you have any you’d like to contribute, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

  1. When I neglect my personal time with God, I eventually pay for it. Makes sense right? If all we are sharing with people is our own opinions, what kind of impact can we expect? When we have recharged at the feet of Jesus, the words we speak are infused with the power of God…
  2. When I don’t sleep enough. When I have been going non-stop to the point where I am getting little sleep or irregular sleep, it will eventually impact me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Regular and consistent sleep does wonders to our mood and our sense of purpose and direction.
  3. When I have let fear take hold. If I am dealing with a difficult member / board / situation and I’m already compromised spiritually / emotionally / physically, fear finds an easy home in my heart. Trusting God becomes difficult. Seeking God becomes a burden. Love is the opposite of fear. I sometimes need what I call a ‘holy baseball bat to the head’ from the Holy Spirit, my wife or a close friend. I wish I could tell you that I’m always aware that I’m operating in fear but most times I’m not.
  4. I’m neglecting personal bible study time. This one is self-explanatory. As pastors, it is so easy to always be studying the bible for our next talk, sermon, devotional, visit and neglect reading the word of God for our own benefit. The Word of God must also be allowed to speak to us personally. I know I must make personal study a priority.
  5. I am not reading enough. If we do not invest in exposing ourselves to new thoughts, new ideas, new stories, we are eventually going to start sounding like a broken record to our congregations. Reading isn’t a waste of time. It is an important part of our job. I have allowed the pressures of the moment at times to push aside my personal study time. There never seems to be enough hours in the day. I suggest that we need to block time in our calendars for reading. When members ask us to schedule something during that time, we can honestly say, I’m sorry, I have another commitment at that time, what about X time?
  6. When I don’t take time off for a long time. Busyness rears its ugly head here again. We may find ourselves feeling guilty about taking time off. There can be multiple reasons for this but one of them is that we fall into the trap of feeling like our church revolves around us. That it would fall apart without us. Or, we have a problem with approval. Someone is bound to criticize us when we take time off. If we aren’t careful, we can allow that criticism to influence us to never take time off. This exposes potential ground for internal meditation…

I’m sure that there are many other reasons that I could explore. What are some of them that you think I’ve missed?