Are You Drooping?

When I was a pastor, I was always drooping by June. I felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails. I was cranky. The people who seemed charmingly eccentric in September were getting on my last nerve. And I didn’t have to deal with a fiscal year starting July 1! I don’t know how people do it.

Like many other people, I’ve got a plant in my Zoom background. Several years ago, in preparation for a virtual event, someone suggested a plant in the background. My husband Karl, the plant guy, found a spathiphyllum we had (also known as a peace lily). Quite apart from how the background looks, it makes me happy to have a plant in my office. And I don’t have to take care of it because Karl does. 

But it sure needs water. It lets us know by drooping dramatically. It perks up pretty quickly after Karl waters it. I do have to pay attention so I can ask him to water in time so it doesn’t look droopy on an upcoming Zoom call.

One reason you are drooping might be because you are overfunctioning. If you’re like most pastors, you’re taking too much responsibility somewhere. However, let’s face it. Even if you manage your overfunctioning tendencies, it’s still a hard job. It takes a toll over time. 

Yet keeping yourself well-watered along the way will help. That means first of all, literally getting enough hydration. Your brain needs water to work properly! Emotionally, with time to reflect and enough support, inside and outside the congregation. And spiritually with a prayer practice that works for you. I like to say that one minute of prayer is better than no minutes.

Self-support will not solve the systemic issues facing congregations today. You can’t change the wider issues like overall declining rates of church attendance. Generational shifts in giving. Increased polarization within and between congregations. The work is to do what you can where you are. And attending to yourself can help you avoid becoming a casualty of ministry. It’s not selfish! There’s every reason to care for yourself, including finding the support you need.

What are you doing to take care of yourself?

Get a checklist for sustainable ministry here.