The Gospel is the good news about the finished work of Jesus, yet a pastor’s work never seems to be finished – especially during a crisis. Pastors and ministry leaders have been in a hard ministry sprint for over a month, and we are tired.
This season has brought both challenges and opportunities for which we have not been formally trained. If someone has a script for this season, they are doing a great job of hiding it!
Whether you are sheltering at home or in your church office, this ministry whirlwind never will stop on its own. My simple quarantine routine involves four components which have helped me to find a sustainable rhythm and pace.
I start my day walking with Jesus.
Pastor and author Peter Scazzero reflects on a busy, draining season in his ministry.
“When I first became a Christian, I fell in love with Jesus. I cherished time alone with him while reading the Bible and praying. Yet, almost immediately, the activity of my life began to eclipse the contemplative dimension of my life… It wasn’t long before I was engaged in more activity for God than my being with God could sustain.” (The Emotionally Healthy Leader)
Once Scazzero became aware of the eroding condition of his soul, he began to intentionally slow down the pace of his life in order to implement the foundational practices of solitude, silence, Scripture, and Sabbath.
Don’t make the mistake of history’s first pastors by becoming so busy that you neglect prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6).
I stop throughout the day to refocus.
The accelerated pace of ministry for the last two months has mostly been exciting. In January we moved to Oklahohoma where I took on a regional role with Oklahoma Baptists to over 400 churches, as well as a statewide role which applies to almost 1800 churches. Additionally, I started leading a national pastoral ministry this month called Care4Pastors.
What a great season to be a Barnabas!
What has helped sustain me in this busy season is taking 3-4 mini-Sabbaths a day to rest in the presence of God. We must manage our lives well by managing our ministry pace well. Refuse to sprint through your day without stopping to be shepherded by our Savior.
I set a hard stop to my work day.
I asked Janet to provide a hard stop for me each day at supper time, which is usually at 6:00 pm. I typically wake up around 6:00 am, walk with God for an hour, then work until Janet says, “Supper is ready.” After supper, we do a number of things that fit in the category of “life.” Almost all ministry can wait until the following day.
I admit that this routine is not always this clean, and if you have children at home, this routine may sound like a pipedream. The key is to develop your own routine which brings some sanity to your life and ministry.
I set a hard stop to my work week.
I try really hard each week to do more than slow down because God commanded us to literally STOP, which is what “Sabbath” means. Pastors are not exempt from this commandment, so don’t try to find a donkey in every ditch. If you are struggling to stop, my prayer is that this post will help you live out the Gospel hour by hour, day by day, and week by week. This COVID season is temporary and messy, so remember to practice the grace you just preached about Sunday. Once you have developed some rhythm to your routine, be flexible because your quarantine routine inevitably will get disrupted again.