In my last post I discussed how ministry stress can sometimes make pastors feel like zombies: listless, unmotivated, and mentally distracted. Many of you took the Zombie Zone Quiz to find out if you were in that zombie zone. If ministry stress is draining you, this post offers some practical guidance.
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If you currently feel like a zombie pastor, what can you do to renew your passion, energy, and zest for ministry? Consider these 10 simple steps that can help you regain your joy and step into God’s healthy zone.
- Admit that something is out of kilter in your life. Simply naming the problem is your first step to solving it.
- Share with a safe friend that you feel like a zombie and ask him or her for prayer and support.
- Take an honest look at your average week. Does it include a full day of rest when you disconnect from all things ministry?
- Start getting 30 more minutes of sleep each night.
- Schedule time each day when you email or do social networking. Don’t get sucked into them every hour.
- Ask the Lord to renew your strength.
- But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. (Is. 40.31)
- Do something fun that you enjoy doing. Make a date with yourself each week and do it. Don’t feel guilty that you are taking time for yourself.
- If it’s serious, find a coach or counselor who can help you dig out. Even if it’s not serious, periodically see a coach or counselor to help give you perspective.
- Ask your closest friends and family to tell you when they sense you are mentally preoccupied. When they tell you, write down what was on your mind. Learn how to catch yourself when you become preoccupied with those thoughts so you can change them and become more present with others.
- Practice silence and solitude. See the related posts below for insight on this important spiritual practice.
How do you keep yourself emotionally and spiritually healthy so that you don’t become a zombie pastor?
Zombies are big today. Big budget movies, popular TV shows, commercials, and even zombie action figures have invaded our culture. Even before they became popular, when someone said, ‘I feel like a zombie,” we knew what they meant… they felt exhausted, lifeless, listless, and were simply going through the motions. How do you know if ministry stress has made you a zombie pastor? In this post you can find out.
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As a pastor for over 35 years, at times I’ve felt like a zombie pastor. Ministry stress, disappointments, and pressure sometimes seemed to sap my soul of life, energy, and joy.
So how do you know if you are a zombie pastor? Take the Pastor Zombie Zone Quiz. (Tweet this quote here)
Some time ago I read Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide. It’s a must-read for every ministry leader. In one chapter he poses 5 questions that are deeply telling about a church’s direction and impact. At your next staff meeting, pose these five questions and give your staff the freedom to answer honestly. Better yet, email them a few days prior to the meeting and ask each staffer to record his or her answers. Then, bring the answers to your meeting.
Below I’ve slightly modified each since you don’t have the context where they appeared unless you’ve read the book.
- As a church are we moving Kingdom priorities forward or are we simply meeting?
- Are we making a measurable difference in our local community or simply conducting services?
- Are we organized around a mission or are we organized around an antiquated ministry model inherited from a previous generation?
- Are we allocating resources as if Jesus is the hope of the world or are the squeaky wheels of church culture driving our budget decisions?
- If we ceased to exist as a church, would the community miss us (my question)?
What other key questions do you think we should regularly ask about our ministry’s effectiveness?
“I just learned 5 probing questions to ask key leaders in my church.” (tweet this quote by clicking here)
Without trust, a church staff or ministry team simply won’t function at its best. In a recent Harvard Business Review blog the author quoted some dismal statistics about the workplace which probably hold true in the ministry realm as well. In this post I suggest 5 ways to build trust with your team.
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According to the 2013 Edleman Trust Barometer, fewer than 20% of respondents believe leaders are actually telling the truth when confronted with a difficult issue in their organizations. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Human Capital Institute and Interaction Associates in 2013 found only 34% of organizations had high levels of trust in the places they work. And, a paltry 38% reported that their organizations had effective leadership running the show.
To cap off a small sliver of dismal data points, research firm Gallup found that over a twelve-year period between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of engaged employees in the workforce has shifted between 26% and 30%. That is, roughly 70% of employees in today’s organizations have spent more than a decade essentially collecting a paycheck, an almost Shakespearean spectacle of tragic ambivalence.
Wow, if only 1/3 of our church staff teams experience a high level of trust, then we have a lot of work to do. Here are five simple ways to build trust with your team.
- Intensity personal relationships. John Maxwell was right when he said that, “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” Although depending on the size of your staff you many not have time to build strong relationships with everybody, at least do so with your key players.
- Share when you’ve failed. When others hear from us when we fail and what we learned from our failures, we endear ourselves to them. When you mess up, admit it.
- Don’t abuse your authority. If you’re in a place of leadership over others, don’t lead from position. Lead from character. Lead in such a way that others would want to follow you.
- Invite input from your team. We seldom know all the answers. When we invite input from our team, we give them ownership of the ministries and the changes we want to implement. And ownership builds trust.
- Never, never, never condescend. When people feel patronized and condescended to, they deeply resist. A friend once shared with me that during a session with his supervisor he felt so patronized that he had to stifle his laughter by the incredulous comments she made. She made herself out to be a know-it-all and made the employee feel like a dummy.
What has helped you build trust in your teams?
“I just learned 5 ways to build trust in my teams.” (tweet this quote by clicking here).
Every pastor needs what I call “true north” values, core convictions we refuse to compromise even when external pressures tempt us to do so. Such values are like the difference between a compass and a gyrocompass. A simple compass points to true north because it relies on magnetic north. Unless, that is, you bring a magnet close to it. This post will help you clarify your true north values.
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Even a small magnet can cause the compass to give wrong directions. Something external to it, the magnet, affects the north arrow so that it gives a false reading. Metaphorically, the magnet made it ‘compromise.’ For some so called ‘values,’ all it takes is criticism or the oppositional voice of a significant board member (an external force) to cause a leader to compromise.
In contrast to a compass, a gyrocompass best models core values. For navigation, ships use gyrocompasses, devices that combine a compass with a gyroscope. They find true north from the earth’s rotation which is navigationally more useful than magnetic north. Additionally, a gyrocompass’s strength lies in its ability to keep true north even if magnetic material is placed near it. In a parallel way, these deeply imbedded values are not those we glibly speak about. Rather, they are ones that stand up under severe external or internal circumstances that would tempt us to compromise. Daniel and his three friends best exemplify these values.