If I got to rank what I love about my job, preaching would be in the top two. I love the prep, working through a passage, a series, thinking through how to best present an idea, and praying about those who will be there, that God would work in their lives and draw them to Himself through my meager attempts at presenting His Word.
There is a downside to this love. It is what happens after preaching. The recovery.
I remember when Katie and I met with a doctor to talk about how to handle the adrenaline that goes with preaching, the emotional, relational and spiritual drain that it can be. (I’ve heard of pastors who sleep for days after preaching because their bodies can’t handle the adrenaline.) The doctor asked, “Is it like teaching a class?” It’s different for one reason – eternities hang in the balance. I heard one pastor describe preaching as “reaching into the road to hell and pulling people back.” (I realize there are some possible theological problems with that, but you get the point.)
The crash a pastor experiences the day after preaching can be brutal. Your whole body aches, your eyes hurt, you feel as low as you have felt all week. For me, I am often so stiff that I can’t bend down to pick something up off the floor after preaching.
So what do you do?
- Manage stress. Keep the day before and after preaching as stress free as possible. Don’t have meetings; stay focused on preaching and recovering.
- Recharge. I do something that recharges me. Hiking, running, playing with my kids, reading a book, drinking coffee with Katie. Read something that recharges you or takes your mind off church. This can be a novel or a spiritual book that challenges your own heart and soul as a human.
- Encouragement. Have some people who call/text to encourage you afterward. Have elders or friends check in with you to ask how they can pray for you, encourage you and let you know that they are lifting you and your family up in prayer.
- Eating. Most pastors are notoriously poor eaters. What you eat before and after preaching is incredibly important. What you eat will make it easier or harder to preach, to sleep, to recover. Make sure you also drink enough water to stay hydrated.
- Move forward. As quickly as possible, move on to next week. Regardless of how your weekend went, good or bad, the next weekend is coming very quickly. So move on. Don’t dwell on what happened (especially if it was bad). Celebrate what God did, learn from what you did poorly, but move on.