Preaching is draining work. A faithful Bible preacher labors week after week to carefully and prayerfully craft sermons in a way that are faithful, helpful, and clear.
All the while they see the faces of actual people God has entrusted to their care. They see their victories, their trials, their suffering, and their sin. They hear their fears, doubts, and their prayers. All of this adds to the weight of bringing a word from God that will build them up, encourage them, feed them, and challenge them.
When the work of preaching is complete, the list of all they wish they would have said and wouldn't have said begins to grow. Sometime Sunday afternoon the reality that they have to do the whole thing over again next week begins to set in.
This is not easy work. This is draining work.
If God has blessed you with the great gift of sitting under the preaching of a faithful man committed to the proclamation of God's Word, pray for Him. His work is draining.
If like me, you are a preacher, how do you recover from this draining work each week? I know many preachers take Monday off to recover, but I have chosen to work on Mondays so that I am not giving the most drained version of myself to my family. I don't think that every preacher needs to do this, but this is what has been best for us in this season. Regardless of whether or not you work on Mondays, what does your recovery day look like?
Here are a few of the rhythms for recovering I try to employ...
1. Personal prayer and time in God's Word
Due to the spiritual, emotional, and physical manner in which preaching depletes, Monday tends to be a discouraging, depressing, and a disorienting day for the preacher. Monday is the day the majority of pastors quit and it's the day the rest of us consider quitting. The best way to refresh our hearts and minds is to pour them out to God in prayer and fill them up with God's Word. Get up early, find a quiet corner, go to a coffee shop, take a walk, go to the office - do whatever you can to get alone with God for prayer and Word.
2. Read to feed your soul
Monday is a great day for me to focus on devotional reading. I do not want to read about leadership, strategy, or productivity. I need to be reminded over and over that I am a forgiven and freed son of God because of the finished work of Jesus in my place. I need my affections stirred and my heart reminded of Christ's love for me and my love for him. What we read may differ, but it will serve us well to read to feed our souls.
3. Begin studying for the next sermon
Thinking about your next sermon may be the last thing you want to do on Monday morning. My advice would be, don't think about your next sermon. Instead spend a couple hours studying whatever text you will preach next week. But, don't worry about illustrations, sermon outlines, or your congregation. Study the text for your own soul. Be reminded of how amazing God's Word is and what a gift it is that we have the privilege of studying and preaching it.
4. Help your family recover
The preachers wife and kids come to church alone, rarely get to spend much time with him before or after service, and then have a very tired (sometimes irritable) husband and daddy the rest of the day. They need help recovering too. I usually head to the office from 8-noon on Monday mornings. That affords me the opportunity to get home for lunch, get my kids down for naps, and then spend some time in the afternoon walking around my neighborhood praying over our church while the kids sleep. When they wake up I am home and can play, take them to the park, run errands with them, and serve my wife. Helping your family recover is a responsibility we cannot neglect.
I do not know what your rhythms for recovery as a preacher are, but you need a plan. Your plan may differ from mine and if so, I'd love it if you dropped a comment and let me know what your recovery day looks like. Our rhythms need not all be the same, but we all need rhythms to recover. I am praying that this Monday morning you are reminded of and refreshed by the Father's great love for you. He does not love you because you preach. He loves you because you are His son. Rest and recover in that reality.