Every pastor knows how this feels because it happens every.monday.morning.
I’m usually emotionally zapped on Monday mornings. I spent the day before ministering to others, from morning to night. I preached my heart out, delivering a sermon I spent 20 hours preparing. I counseled and prayed with hurting people. I led an evening home group. I met with elders and prayed about the church and made tough decisions with them. And somewhere in that crazy day I also managed to spend some time with my wife and four kids. Now it is Monday. Oh blessed Monday!
Mondays are a slower day, typically, than the other days of my week. It is a day I typically spend almost entirely in my study at the church. Few people schedule counseling appointments on Mondays. I don’t have any Bible studies or small groups to meet with on Monday. I have few meetings of any kind on Mondays. At the church, there are a few people working and coming and going, but it is a relatively quiet day – unlike the rest of the week.
Those two things by themselves – my emotional exhaustion and the slow pace of the day – heighten the temptation to become discouraged. But on any given Monday there might be even more to it. Maybe the weekend didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Maybe someone made an overly-critical comment to me after the service (or a normal comment that felt overly critical to my overly-sensitive ears). Maybe no one said anything at all – not even a simple ‘thank you’ for preaching the Word. Maybe (and likely) I am overthinking things.
So now it is Monday and I have to begin again. A new week, with new Bible studies to lead, new counseling sessions, new people to serve, and a new sermon to prepare. New everything. Again.
Whatever the exact causes, the blues often knock on my door on Monday mornings. And, as a pastor I have to fight against it. So how do I do that? Here are four things that work for me when I get serious about the fight for joy on a Monday:
- I pray and read the Bible. It is essential for me to get up early on Monday mornings and spend time alone with God. I do that every day, but Mondays are especially important. I read the Bible and ponder how to apply the passages to my life – how God wants to speak this into my life. And I confess my wrong thinking, and my general self-absorption. I ask for God’s help to be self-forgetful, to seek to serve others, and to view the new day and the new week as gifts to be well-stewarded for the glory of God. I ask him for his strength and enabling grace to resist the temptation to be glum, and to rejoice in him. I do this in the morning and repeat as necessary throughout the day.
- I jump into the new week with gusto and work as hard as I can – prepare for as much as possible and get as far as I can on my sermon. Not only is this super helpful for my week’s workload and for productivity, it helps me stay encouraged. I think discouragement and laziness (or idleness) are first cousins, if not best buds. If I let discouragement take root, I will accomplish very little. And if I accomplish very little, discouragement will likely take root. So I work, asking God to help me keep my head in the game.
- I exercise. Never underestimate the emotional helpfulness of a good five-mile run, especially on a Monday! I try to run three times a week, but I try even harder to never miss a Monday.
These are the three main things that help me not fall to the temptation of self-absorbed discouragement. These things help me fight the Monday morning blues. What do you do?