In a recent article for LifeWay Pastors, Rob Hurtgen lists five things to consider when you are feeling overwhelmed. Here are three of them:
Know and communicate your limitations.
“I anticipated the busyness of my four-month sprint. I knew what my limitations were going to be before it began. Knowing those limitations allowed me the freedom to say no when asked, ‘Can you do this?’
“Often the reasons we are driven by whatever appears to be urgent is because we have not clarified what is truly important. The great things we have been called to accomplish, those things that only we can do, are lost in the good things that could be done. We must recognize there always will be emergencies, but not everything that is urgent is an emergency.
“This highly demanding season forced me to clarify what was most important. It was much better for my health, my family and the ministry I’m called and privileged to serve in to say, ‘No, I really cannot do that right now,’ than to say, yes and never get it done.
Maintain the practice of personal spiritual disciplines.
“Busy or not, it is far too easy to skip the practice of personal spiritual disciplines. As a pastor, it is too easy to reason and delude yourself into thinking that sermon preparation will be enough to sustain your own soul. Certainly your sermon preparation will be challenging and often convicting, but an integrationist mode is not a substitution for the nourishment of your soul through the practice of personal spiritual disciplines.
“Imagine a banker who does not balance his personal accounts or pay his own bills because he reasons, ‘The finance work I do during the week is enough to take care of my personal accounts.’ That would not work. Not only would this banker be out of house and home, he soon would be out of a job because his employer would deem him irresponsible.
“In the same way, a pastor cannot neglect his own personal spiritual disciplines and expect his sermon and Bible study preparation to care for his own soul. Pastors need to spend time with God before they effectively are able to produce great things for Him.
Maintain the disciplines of diet, exercise and rest.
“Stress is detrimental to your health. It will shorten your life and increase your weight. It is crucial, especially when feeling overwhelmed to take time to maintain the disciplines of diet, exercise and rest.
“When Elijah fled from the peak moment in his ministry, he was exhausted—so worn out that he wanted to die. God nurtured and cared for him not by sending him off to a retreat or a conference but by having him take a nap, eat some food and repeating (1 Kings 19:1-8). A simple but crucial formula: Sleep, eat and repeat.
“We are psychosomatic beings. The condition of our physical health bears tremendous impact on our spiritual, emotional and mental well-being. We cannot give to others if we have neglected fueling ourselves.
“When you feel overwhelmed, it is easy to say, ‘I don’t have time to go for a walk,’ ‘I need to sleep a little less to get more done,’ or ‘I only have time to go through the drive-through for dinner.’ On occasion that will work; but over a period of time, neglecting the disciplines of diet, exercise and rest will take a toll on your whole being. Why risk it for a moment?
“Ignoring the discipline of diet, exercise and rest will be detrimental to you, your family, and the noble task of ministry.” (Read the full list here.)