Want to finish strong in ministry? Take care of yourself first.

As a church leader, you’re used to serving others. Whether that’s praying with several people after each service, comforting those going through a difficult trial, or trying to ensure the next service has the greatest impact possible, you’re focused on everyone else. That’s admirable and part of what being a follower of Christ is all about.

However, sometimes we take this a bit too far and neglect ourselves to the point where we’re no longer effective serving others. For example, has your doctor been bugging you about high blood pressure lately? Do you feel tired on a regular basis? That’s your physical health, but what about your spiritual health…or the health of your relationships with family and friends? What about your emotional health?

Yes, these are personal questions but I want you to consider them for a reason. If you’re neglecting your own health and relationships you won’t be able to serve others very well for very long.

Taking care of yourself isn’t a selfish act. It’s actually crucial to being able to minister effectively. Your family wants you healthy and around to love and cherish for decades to come. Your church family wants you strong and able to lead with excellence. By taking a few simple steps to invest in your own spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health, you’ll be able to be there for the ones you love and desire to serve.

Here are four healthy steps you can take to make sure you can serve well:

Healthy Step #1: Take a Sabbath

You obviously work on Sundays, so take another day and make it your day of rest. God rested after creating the Earth and put this into the Ten Commandments, so it seems like He thought rest was important. A day of rest doesn’t include checking work email or dealing with items that aren’t extremely urgent. This may require turning off your cell phone and not logging onto your computer so you can truly check out for the day. Spend time with your family, take a nap, read a non-work related book, take your spouse out on a date, or engage in a relaxing hobby.

Healthy Step #2: Exercise

This could mean taking a long walk or something much more vigorous, depending on your fitness level and goals. Whatever you’re able to do, invest the time to take care of your physical body. It’s the only one you’ve got, so treat it well.

Healthy Step #3: Feed your spirit

Read your Bible for non-sermon prep reasons. Listen to another pastor’s messages or read a spiritual development book. Get in a quiet place and pray or simply listen. Pray with your spouse and children.

Healthy Step #4: Have fun

Play with your kids, go out for a round of golf on a sunny day, hang out with friends, go on a date night with other couples, etc.  Do something that doesn’t require any deep thought – just relax and savor the moment.

Remember Jesus said to, “take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30. If you’re constantly running on empty, you won’t have much left to pour out into others. Even Jesus went away from the crowds to pray and spend time with His disciples. Want to finish strong in ministry?  Let’s follow His example and take care of ourselves so we’ll have more than enough available to serve others.