Those of us who have the privilege of preaching on Sundays often come to the end of a Sunday feeling just a little emotionally drained. Apparently this is not uncommon. The anticipation of leading God’s people in worship and giving them a message from God each Sunday is very energizing. All things being normal in our lives, pastors go into a weekend really excited about the possibility of leading the church body in worship on Sunday morning and speaking a message from the Word. It’s always amazing to me how we who pastor churches can go into a Sunday with such vision and energy week after week.
But it is equally amazing to see how it’s possible to experience the other end of the emotional spectrum too when it’s all over — most often on Sunday evenings. Having given oneself fully to the task of leading God’s people in worship on the Lord’s Day, it is not unusual to feel a kind of spiritual and emotional let-down at the end of the day and even into Monday. For some of us the feeling of depression after Sunday mornings can be almost overwhelming. It is difficult for the average Christian church member to appreciate this aspect of the pastor’s experience. Perhaps these let-downs are common to people who serve in public life but no doubt the Sunday night blues are even greater for pastors because of the spiritual dimension of their work.
The anticipation I had going into the Service today was huge. I was excited about the message God had given me to preach which happened to be on the subject of proclaiming God’s good news. My objective was to help the church see that the communication of the Gospel was foundational to our “raison de etre.” Using 2 Corinthians 5 as the text I wanted to help people in the congregation today understand the nature of the Gospel and the motivation we should have for making it known. The idea was to help prepare people for a national campaign initiated by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association called, My Hope. The plan is to encourage Christians everywhere to see that God can use them in making the message of the Gospel known to their neighbours and friends through sharing their own story of how they answered God’s call to follow Him.
In preparing a Worship Service, the pastors visualize how all of the elements will flow together to accomplish a specific purpose. But it never goes exactly like one dreams. There are hitches of one kind or another — announcements that end up being too elaborate, technical problems that emerge in the execution of the plan, the message being longer and perhaps not as concise as envisioned, innuendoes that discourage. Nevertheless, the immediate response is encouraging. People comment on the helpful nature of the Service, how glad they are to be part of the church, how helpful the message has been. There are great conversations with people after the Service indicating that it’s all good.
But most pastors are also left with nagging questions about the larger impact of the message, how people really felt about the Service, what their overall impressions and feelings are about what’s happening in the church, and whether they feel good about the contribution their pastor is making. No doubt this is normal mental activity for most pastors after every Sunday’s Service. The experience is a test of emotional control and spiritual fortitude. While some measure of introspection is good for everyone from time to time, it is important to recognize that Satan is able to take advantage of Christians and Christian leaders when they are most vulnerable. Most commonly for pastors the time for such an attack is Sunday night.
Pastors should take comfort in the fact that this experience is very common to all of them. It’s one of the occupational hazards of pastoral ministry. It helps if one develops the discipline of not dwelling on the positives or the negatives of the day too soon. It’s also helpful to remember not to take oneself too seriously. And it’s really good to plan on some down-time after Sunday — a way to disengage from the experience after it is over. That’s why many pastors take Mondays to do something completely different. This is not a bad idea. It’s amazing how good the week ahead begins to look after you’ve been able to do something recreational. I think I need such a time tomorrow. Golf, here I come!!