This is by no means an exhaustive list. Ministry is overwhelming and can affect every area of a person in a unhealthy way: physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. I’ve seen too many people implode. I’ve been in unhealthy places more times than I’d like to admit. However, sometimes staying healthy is about watching the gauges and keeping an eye on the critical areas of your life. Last year was an incredibly difficult year for me and even in the hardship, I was able to stay in a fairly healthy place. It wasn’t an easy season, but I look back over that season and I don’t have any regrets. So, here’s some ideas around keeping healthy so you can lead for the long haul.

Disclaimer: I don’t want to misrepresent myself. I’m by no means an expert at any of these things. Sometimes I’m doing great at a handful of these things and not so great at other things. Regardless, I’ve found these things to be true:

Boundaries  At some point, you have to say “no.” Do you know where that is? There will always be someone asking you for something else to do. Yes, you’re going to disappoint someone when you tell them no. They might event complain to your manager. You only have so much to give. Figure out where to draw those lines. Talk to your family about them.

Have honest conversations with your manager  You’ll like your job a lot more if you know that you can be fully honest with the person who can make a difference for you. If you don’t have that kind of relationship with your manager, that’s a problem (but you already know that). I try to “check myself” before going to my manager, making sure that I’m not just complaining. I’ll often bounce my concerns off my wife to make sure I’m not being unreasonable. I love working at my church and if I had to rank the top 5 things about working at Gateway, working for my manager would be on that list. Last year, I cried in his office… more than once. Every time I left, I felt better and more hopeful.

Get a hobby  I know you like ministry. You’d probably do it for free (some of you are). But you need to find something to do outside of your job. Maybe you like collecting stamps or you’r thinking about taking a physics class at the local community college. Do it! I love to hike. Now that my kids are getting older, I can take take them with me or we can make it a family adventure. At some point you have to turn off the phone and engage in something that fills your cup.

Take a vacation  Last year I cashed in all of my vacation. I took two weeks at Spring Break and four weeks over the summer. After the year I had had, I needed it. Afterward, I was so mad at myself for all the past vacations I hadn’t taken. Our bodies need the rest and our families need us fully present. If you’re church will let you, take more than one week in a row. It’s heavenly.

Find your people  I fully believe that we have the greatest chance to be the best version of ourselves when when we find people where you can fully be yourself. I have seen the greatest spiritual growth in my life when I’ve had a group of guys that I meet with regularly having honest conversations. Who is that for you? I’ve also been a more reasonable pastor when I’ve had a group of pastors that I know and know me well. Having a close friend who does what you do that doesn’t work at your church… best thing ever.

Keep things good between you and God  Sometimes I feel alone in this, but this is an area I struggle with the most. I’m a very self-sufficient person and I try to do a lot on my own strength. This is why I need other people in my life, asking me how I’m doing in this area. I can knock out my spiritual “to do list” and miss the point entirely. My internal drive pushes me to be the “best Christian” I can be, but my true heart’s desire is to simply be a friend of God. Keeping this a priority will help you no matter the season you are in.

Hope that helps. Stay healthy, too many people are depending on your leadership for years and years to come!