Does ministry have to be so exhausting?

Before we dig into this big issue, I would like to acknowledge the many spiritual caregivers who have been faithfully serving for the long-term – often without any recognition or celebrity status. I have made it a passion project o mine to celebrate and honour them and their work and lives.  Most especially, I want to study the life and spiritual balance they have achieved as they have been able to experience the joy and fulfilment of long-term ministry without succumbing to the pitfalls of burnout or temptation. I have started interviewing them to document their stories in the hope of discovering their secrets to such longevity. 

Wisdom can be knowing when to say no

But first, let me take a step back and share my own ministry journey, which in some ways, ignited my passion to discover the secret of lasting long-term in ministry and Kingdom-business. My husband and I were on a pathway to becoming the pastors of our church. Shortly before a commissioning service, we chose not to go through with it. We realised that pastoring a church was not a wise choice for us both. 

While our hearts were excited for the opportunity to serve, the reality of our home and work/life commitments and pressures meant that we would be extending ourselves beyond hour capabilities in an unhealthy way. We both run our own businesses, and our children have additional needs (ADHD and Autism). Although the church was small, and we were regularly being assured that it wasn’t a ‘big job’, it was an unpaid role so we would need to keep working in our businesses as well in order to make ends meet. 

Of course, it’s not all or nothing. We are still in ministry in other ways. Today, however, I want to focus on the ‘top job’ – being the leader(s) of a church. I truly believe a better way has to be found for leaders to serve without leading to burn-out, exhaustion or marriage breakdowns. I know that when the Lord calls us to ministry, He also sustains us. 

‘For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’ Isaiah 41:13

The secrets to ministry longevity

I set out to find out how long-term pastors have sustained their passion for the Lord and their work without sacrificing their health, well-being, or loved ones. I have started interviewing pastors that have been in ministry for over 20 years. Here is the first of what I hope will be many posts with the wisdom they had to share: 


1. Love the Lord

Spend precious time with the Lord. Make time daily to recharge, revitalise, revive and REST in His presence. Seek Him first before all others. Let the Lord direct your steps. 

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heat, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.’ Proverbs 3:4-5


 2. Love your family

Put family first. Your children will only have one childhood and you only have one spouse. Set clear boundaries for family time and gently but firmly stick to them.


3. Love boundaries

Make it known to your leaders, community, and congregation when you are available and when you are not. Share the ‘on call’ requirement with your church elders to cover emergencies and to cover you on your day off. It is ok for you to have a life outside of your ministry


4. Love yourself

You are worthy because you are made in the image of God. Exercise self-care. Make time to eat. Make time to exercise. Make time to do the things you love with the people you love.

‘The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ Samuel 16:7


5. Love people

Don’t isolate yourself. Choose a shared office space where you can interact with others. Stay accountable. 


6. Attitude of gratitude

Practice thankfulness daily. Make a conscious habit of expressing appreciation for big and small things – your relationships, health, family, friends, a bed to sleep in, food on the table, random acts of kindness…


7. Ask for help

Stay humble and remember that we all need a little help from outside sometimes. People often want to help but don’t know how. Recognise when you need help and seek it out – a friend, colleague, Christian life or ministry coach, or Pastoral Supervisor.

God created us with limits

We were NOT designed to be all things to all people all the time. Our limits do not make us less worthy in God’s eyes therefore they should not make sus less worthy in the eyes of our peers. By investing daily in yourself, you will continue to harvest His grace today, tomorrow, and long into the future. Life gets hard. It gets messy. That is all part of the journey and God also created us with resilience and grit if we have planted our roots firmly in Him. He will through through you in ways you do not expect if you let Him. 

‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it sprints up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’ Isaiah 43:19

Live the life God designed just for you

Don’t wait for burnout to come calling. Kingdom Leaders empowers and encourages Christian leaders and pastors through FREE resources and Christian-based Life coaching, mentoring and pastoral supervision. We offer ministry leadership coaching where your ministry coach will work with you to identify the areas of your life that are overloaded and unbalanced. With the support and guidance of a professional coach, you can achieve balance, fulfilment, growth and longevity in ministry and life – so you can plan for long, and spiritually fruitful ministry.

Click here for our FREE Life Balance Assessment



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