These 9 Things Could Revolutionize Your Ministry

I know all too well the burden and stress of ministry and the toll it can have on an individual. As a pastor that is in the process of rebuilding a church, I have faced this terrible reality. So much so, that I had once contracted shingles on my face due to stress, and was dangerously close to losing my sight from the infection. It rang out like a siren, signalling to me that something seriously needed to change.

One of the things that came to the forefront of my mind was that a huge part of the stress was either self-induced or that I had allowed it to enter into my life. And if you are anything like me, this may be the case for you.

Of course, it may not be the same for everyone, and there is definitely a genuine pressure for people and the Church to “perform.” I have seen friends and colleagues be pushed to the point of breaking. And in a lot of ways, their positions were too large to handle.

However, after some serious reflection and intentional changes, I have been able to not only continue, but thrive in a position that should be shared with at least two other people. So I have seen these principles keep me alive as I pushed through this season of rebuilding in my ministry context.

I still have a lot to figure out as I continue to grow and learn everyday. But I hope that some of the lessons I have learned can be useful for you. My hope is that you find not just a healthy balance, but also that you may return to the place of excitement and passion you once had.

Confession time: We ministers sometimes allow the burden for the ministry and people to become all consuming. If you are able to find a position and church that wishes to take care of you I would recommend a couple things to keep yourself from falling into the traps that lead to burnout.

1. Don’t expect more of yourself than what is healthy and make sure the church understands.

Again, it is very possible you are in an unhealthy situation, and what you need to do is quit before you burn out. You were not called to sacrifice yourself, your calling or your family on the altar of ministry. If you have talked with leadership about your longevity and need for help and none is given, maybe you need to eject yourself from that position. Remember, you are not indispensable, God can find someone else and there is another position for you.

This list is not about the outward pressures and stresses, but dealing with the ones that come from within. You may need to deal with both, but for this post, I am focusing on the self-induced stress.

2. Be disciplined in your time management.

Most of the time, we work 70 hour weeks because we allow our schedules get away from us. Even something as simple as having time limits on meetings and counseling sessions will make a world of difference. I know that sounds harsh, but in no other profession would they let the person needing the meeting dictate the amount of time. I was amazed in how much time I had gained back once I again became disciplined with my time and focused on what was important and prioritized my time on that.

POSTED ON February 6, 2014
  • PJ

    Its amazing how just doing one of these can reduce the stress in your job / life. Something that helped me during my time in the ministry was that I was going to try to say no more than yes to things that were outside my main ministry. I know that sort of sounds cruel, but it truly helped my family and def. didn’t hurt my ministry. I also surfed a lot, which always helps reduce the stress that can be ministry.

    • Amen and Amen PJ. Both were huge things for me. Saying no was a hard thing for me for a long time. But at some point I needed to realize that if my attention was divided and spread to thin, not only do I take to much time away from my family and personal needs, but I also don’t minister well. I do a whole lot of things poorly, instead of being focused on fewer things and doing them well and with excellence.

      And right on with you on the surfing. I took off notifications from my phone for things like facebook and close the tab on my browser. They will be there when I check them later. Having my device ding every 5-15 minutes def sidetracks.

      Another huge one that our lead pastor shared was if a task can be done in the 2 minutes I have at hand, I do it right away instead of putting it off. You would be amazed how much time that saves.

      Thanks for the input PJ, great thoughts. 🙂

      • PJ

        I find that my time in ministry has prepared me for business and my time in the business world prepared me for the ministry. So many times, the church doesn’t want to run the church like a business. But the realization is that we can take the qualities of both and use them in each other. I use a method called the Pomodora (basic time management / eyes off the screen). Every 25 mins, I take a 5 min break. I walk around, I hug my kids (I work from home), go outside to get fresh air, something to take my mind off the job.

        Had I known about this method during my time in the ministry I might not have burned out, well that might not be true but you never know. I think we need these little “good distractions” to help us focus and return to what truly matters.

        I like the if it can be done in 2 mins, do it mentality. So many little things take up much of our time because we didn’t just take care of it when we had the time.

        I truly appreciate this article. We need good, constant reminders that we are humans as well as ministers. And that that combination does not make us superhuman.

        • PJ another great point! Yeah, I have been using that technique, without even realizing, since I was in college writing papers. It is amazing what getting up and walking away for a few minutes can do to help get a refresher and some perspective. Thanks for mentioning that.

          Also, I agree. We can gain truth and principles from many differing fields. We don’t need to accept or adopt a entire framework just because we see benefits to part of it. Awesome point.

          Glad you enjoyed the article and hope it benefits you as learning the experience has for me. 😉

  • Drake thank you for these tips! I resonate with the time management, expectations and hobby as all these have been helpful to my missionary leadership ministry. One thing I see often is unvoiced expectations creating tension, stress, burnout and dysfunction. Why didn’t they teach us that in ministry training?

    • I hear you. I think I learned so much more in the trenches and wondered why this wasn’t in the ‘manual’.

      I am glad the article resonated with you, it is always encouraging to know that.

      Can you go a bit deeper on the idea of ‘unvoiced expectation’?

      • When I speak of “unvoiced expectations” I probably would be more precise to say “unspoken”. From my coaching experience and as a missionary leader I see a lot of issues spring from lack of clear communications and unspoken expectations. This is true of both pastors/ministers and church members.

        Often the stress and friction we experience in ministry is because we are both working under a different set of expectations.

        Sort of like chores at home… your wife “expects” you to take out the trash. She has never told you that is her expectation though. You don’t “expect” to have to do that, so you do not! Her attitude toward you expresses a bit of frustration, yet you do not understand why since you think you are doing what YOU need to do.

        Does that make sense?

        In our churches, we need to discuss our mutual expectations with one another. Otherwise the trash builds up and so does the frustration! :-0

        • Yes. What I thought you were getting at. Thought it would be good to clarify and flush out. 😉

          And I def agree. That can def cause a lot of stress. The always wondering and second guessing or doing and then being corrected or just a lack of guidance and understanding. Thanks for your thoughts.

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Drake currently serves as the Executive Pastor at and is the Editor-In-Chief at

Drake is an avid speaker, writer, and leadership coach/consultant, and is passionate about seeing people thrive and come alive – to BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVE and BECOME people FULL OF LOVE, FUELED BY FAITH, and ADDICTED TO HOPE. You can get in contact with him by heading over to his personal page and connecting with him on social media (see below).