When the preacher is tired, watch out

“Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat down by the well….” (John 4:6).

Jesus grew tired, so don’t be surprised if you do, too.

Jesus needed rest and wanted a little solitude, and you and I are no different.

Give yourself permission to be human, friend.

As for me, it’s Monday night and I’m tired.

How did I get this way?  Take the last few days, for instance. Last Thursday, I drove to Biloxi, MS and sketched that evening and Friday morning for a convention. Then, I drove on to Mobile and spent the night with my son’s family. Saturday, drove 300 miles into North Alabama where I spent the evening sketching at a graduation party for the granddaughter of some classmates of mine, friends all the way back to junior high.  And then, Sunday. Well, the Lord’s Day began with a 7 am men’s breakfast at a church outside Jasper, AL, followed by sketching people during Sunday School and preaching  at the 11 am service. I left that church and drove 10 miles to my sister’s UMC church, arriving in time to sketch almost everyone attending a luncheon. Back at the family farmhouse, I caught a nap, then drove to my other sister’s Baptist church and sketched for an hour at their Sunday evening fellowship.  Monday, I got up and drove the 400 miles home.

When a friend described a concept she has for some kind of book illustration she’s requesting, I had to say, “I am too tired to think about this at the moment.  Can you have someone draw your idea and mail to me, and I’ll try to redraw it as professionally as I can.”

When you are tired, a lot of things occur….

–Saying ‘no’ becomes a necessity.  The last thing you need is more burdens.  The first thing you need is rest.

–The creativity goes out the window.  The creative instinct needs to be protected by a circumference of solitude, quiet, and silence.

–The enthusiasm leaves.

–And so does the energy. (So, when the experts say the remedy for mind fatigue is exercise, to make the body as tired as the mind, we instinctively reject that as ridiculous.)

–You discourage easily.  The slightest thing.  (If you’re like me, you get grouchy.)

–You tend to overeat.  Mostly, that’s because you don’t have the energy to prepare proper food.

–You don’t feel like disciplining yourself (see the above point).

–You become short-tempered with friends and even more impatient with strangers.

–Therefore, you have to pray the Lord will guard your spirit and bless your reactions and responses.

–You want to be alone.  And you would like a long, long nap.

–You shy away from decisions that need to be made. And that’s not all bad since decisions made when one is fatigued tend to be risky.

–You tend to act impulsively.  Negatively or positively, shooting from the hip is not good.

–You are in great danger of bad decisions, offending people dear to you, rash pronouncements, and ill temper.

The best thing to have when you get really tired…

…is someone to speak truth to you and if necessary, force you to rest.  “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” 

A pastor friend said to me, “I’m about to have a breakdown.” He holds down a full-time secular job and yet his congregation expects him to devote a great deal of time to the church.  As bad as that is, I expect most of the expectations are his own. He is a terrible taskmaster for himself.  That’s why someone has to make him stop and rest.

“If you are sick or hospitalized or if you have a heart attack or die, the congregation will have to figure out how to get along without you,” I told one such friend.  But no, he could not allow himself the luxury of resting.

It took his wife demanding that he stop before he allowed himself that privilege.

If you are a pastor with a ministerial staff, ask them to cover for you.  Enlist the aid of your spouse to protect you from interruptions.  Now, rest.

Watch out for the temptation to do more jobs around the house.  Cutting the grass is not relaxing.  Working in the flower garden is still work.

So, when I got in from my long drive today, I went through the mail and dealt with it.  I unloaded my car and washed two loads of clothes. And I did this blog and responded to several emails.. 

For a minister who is widowed, there is no one to tell me to stop this and turn off the laptop and go to bed early.

Help me, Father.




3 thoughts on “When the preacher is tired, watch out

  1. Bless you Bro. Joe! Been there, done that, got the medal of honor scarred across my spirit. Indeed, it’s time to “be still… know God” and rest in His purpose today, let tomorrow worry about itself … going to bed myself.

  2. More than three years after your blogpost, and yet this is the best article I’ve read so far on the net. Other articles seemed judgmental, do this or don’t do that, or stated so many numbers of steps to do this or that. Reading those articles made me wonder if the person behind them had any clue as to what he was speaking about. Pretty sure they didn’t. Your article rang true. I’m pastoring myself and every word you wrote hit the mark. Guess it’s more than time for me to take some rest and that is exactly what I’m planning to do. God bless you.

  3. I used to have guilt feelings when I rested, and could think of “a million things I need to be doing”….until an elderly mentor who had just gotten out of a psychological recuperation unit at a local hospital told me “Jesus rested….you better rest or you’ll end up going through what I just did.” I learned to practice the “discipline of rest” and re-opened Dwight Harvey Small’s book “Your Right to Rest”.
    I was bivocational as well, and never thought I had time to take for myself. Thank you for this article…and now, perhaps you need to take some of your own advice (??) we need you around a while longer.

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