Four Steps to Promote Pastor Resilience | The alternate
Your community and community now need your help more than ever because of COVID-19. But they will also need you later. You may already recognize this, but you are in the middle of a marathon, not a sprint.
If you want to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4: 7), you have to make sure that there is enough in the "tank" to reach the finish line. Below are some steps you can take to prevent burnout. Don't just take our word for it. Below are some lessons from pastors who went through Hurricane Katrina.
Hold on to faith
You have probably delivered numerous sermons encouraging others to remember that God is with them even in difficult times. Now is the time to practice what you preach. Take special times for prayer, especially when you feel you don't have time to pray.
We need the most prayer in these difficult times. As I wrote: "We need to be reminded of the simple truth – keep praying and talking to God when the crisis comes. Seek meaning through diary, prayer, scripture reading, and talking to those you trust. "
Seek social support
A common struggle I've heard from pastors around the world amid disasters like the current pandemic is the tendency to withdraw socially because they feel the pressure to "hold everything together". Granted, during COVID-19 you have to physically distance yourself, but that doesn't mean you should relationally isolate yourself. Do not hesitate to ask others for support.
Take some time out when you can recharge yourself by spending time with those you care about, staying with at home, or by virtually turning to trusted friends. Pastor does not mean that you are immune to frequent COVID-19 battles (e.g. stress, anxiety, depression). So you also need to know when to get professional support. Give yourself some mercy; Not only are you a minister, you are also someone who is going through a pandemic.
Set up a routine
Know that if you experience a loss of "normalcy" as you lead your church through COVID-19 and what's next, you are not alone. Because of COVID-19, life can feel like it's changing from week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour.
Continue to expect additional changes in your pastoral role. At the same time, do your best to find ways to establish a healthy rhythm and routine for your ministry. The more you can try to go back to what you did in life before COVID-19, the better.
I realize that you can't just go back to what things were. Rather, I suggest that you try to find some rest in the chaos. Try to incorporate a structure into your day as much as possible. Familiar faces, schedules, and everyday tasks, even when done virtually, can make a big contribution to buffering against burnout. There is something soothing and healing in the routine.
Set some limits
COVID-19 did more work than you could ever do in a day. In addition, technology has made you more accessible to your church and congregation than ever before. Whether this is a blessing or a curse depends on your ability to set healthy boundaries. I'm not telling you to stop helping others. I'm not even going to ask you to strive for balance yet.
After years of studying and working with pastors around the world on burnout, I have come to the conclusion that there is no real balance. Instead, I encourage you to work towards a healthy rhythm of duty. It's okay to ride waves of business as long as you remember to get off the board and enjoy still water from time to time. Overall, make sure you make room for rest, healthy eating, exercise, and relaxation when possible.
Yes, you are doing God's work while caring for others. But keep in mind that even Christ, during his ministry on earth, was looking for moments and times of loneliness, fellowship and renewal. You would be wise to do the same. Don't get involved in the Lord's work so much that you forget the Lord of the work – and his call to rest.
Portions of this article have been taken from a piece that was first published on pastors.com.
Jamie Aten, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. Follow on Twitter at @drjamieaten or visit jamieaten.com.
Kent Annan, M.Div., Is director of humanitarian and disaster management at Wheaton College. Follow on Twitter at @kentannan or visit kentannan.com.