By Cody Collier
There is a true crisis concerning the physical, mental and spiritual health of leaders serving the church today. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee’s timely book, Faithful and Fractured, believes it stems from the stressors pastors face today and the expectations other people have of pastors paired with pastors’ expectations of themselves. I have witnessed an increase of leaders who feel stuck, unable to think or focus, often exhausted and depressed by the challenges of leadership. The quick response of people to the issues of self-care and burnout is to advise leaders to take a few days off. Let the church handle everything until you get back.
However, the reality is that most people do not give much thought to the idea that clergy and laity serving a church need times for retreat, reflection and renewal throughout the year. Too often leaders leave for a planned time away and are refreshed for a few weeks. They then return to having severe headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, chest pains and overeating from daily stress; they have an increase of doctor’s visits for a quick relief. February is the perfect time for clergy and laity in leadership to ask: Does your schedule drain you or invite you to experience a more meaningful and faithful witness?
How will you seek to serve in your local church with greater energy, passion, creativity, wisdom and relevance in the new year? What will you do differently this year that will lead you toward a year of not just surviving ministry but flourishing in your ministry setting? The new year is an exciting time, brimming with the promise of a fresh start and new beginnings. It is truly the opportunity to recommit to a healthier spiritual and physical well-being. It’s also a good time for you to reflect on ways to regain balance and spiritual wholeness in order to enhance your effectiveness as a leader. We all know the importance of eating right, exercising three times each week and drinking more water. However, whether you are feeling totally inspired by another year or feeling overwhelmed, leaders have the opportunity to recommit to strengthening the soul of their leadership that can lead to a deep and vital relationship with God and others who are called to serve. Below are spiritual practices for a healthier you in the coming year: