Checks and Balances
Because ministry has built-in temptations and tendencies to burnout, you have to put in additional safeguards. And a pastor's wife is the best person to keep him accountable in terms of getting the right amount of sleep and taking a day off every week.
Shona, my wife, has been such a help to me in this area. I would work every day, as long as I could. But early in our marriage, she really laid down the law. She said, "No. The Bible says, six days you shall labor and do all your work, and the seventh day is to be a rest day."
The Bible says, six days you shall labor and do all your work, and the seventh day is to be a rest day.
There were two times in my life I said, "Shona, there's just too much to do. Just this week, I'm going to work all day, every day." And so I did. She said, "Okay, just this once." Each time I did it, I didn't get any more done—I just spread the work out over more days, and I was more tired at the end of it. So learn that lesson of accountability on the sabbath principle every week.
Elders can play an important role. They should be asking the pastor not just "Are you watching pornography?" but also "How long are you sleeping? Are you exercising? Do you have other male friendships? Do you have a hobby? Something to refuel you?"
So take a holistic approach to the human life in front of you, rather than just focusing on the spiritual. Your wife or your elders keeping you accountable in a number of areas is vital to long-term health in ministry.
Be sure to take a look at Crossway's burnout infographic for more statistics related to this important (yet neglected) issue.
- Infographic: The Common (Yet Neglected) Problem of Burnout
- Is Your Check Engine Light On? (David Murray)
- 4 Pieces of Advice for Stressed Out Christians (David Murray)