5 Keys to Resilience and Wellness in the Ministry

“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”

Bouncing back from stress, trials, and adversity is a process that God is deeply involved in.

God’s strength is the source of our resiliency. Habakkuk 3:17-19 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Risk Factors in Ministry

  • 24/7 Mindset and lack of Sabbath
  • Unresolved conflict
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of boundaries and assertiveness
  • Imbalanced time management
  • Pride or insecurity
  • Inability to let go of what you cannot control.
  • Lack of or need for skills in a specific area.

Spiral Effects of Burnout

  1. Burnout causes inefficiency.
  2. Inefficiency creates increased demands.
  3. Demands create pressure and guilt for not achieving the desired goals.
  4. Pressure and guilt cause stress.
  5. Stress causes a depletion of energy and drive, which in turn cases inefficiency.

Three Themes of Resilient Ministry

  1. Healthy Spiritual Growth and Self-Care
  2. Healthy Self-Awareness
  3. Healthy Relationships

Healthy Spiritual Growth & Self-Care

Spiritual Growth

  • Spiritual Disciplines
    • Bible Study
    • Prayer / Fasting
    • Worship
    • Reflection time
  • It becomes easy for our personal devotion time to blend with our church preparation time.
    • What are strategies you have found to help with this?
  • “Before you were called to be a shepherd, you were called to be a lamb.” Diane Langberg, Ph.D.

What is Sabbath for Ministers & Wives?

  • God desires everyone to have a way to observe a time of Sabbath.
    • Exodus 20:8-11, Remember the sabbath [intermission, cease, repose] day, to keep it holy.”
  • The Sabbath reminds us to rest in God; regardless of how “busy” we are.
    • It is a vital part of the discipline of rest and reflection.
    • Jesus had His boundaries and periods of rest (Mark 6)
    • We must be intentional in this discipline, or it gets lost.
    • What are creative ways you have learned to keep the discipline of the Sabbath?


  • A vital, not optional, part of your ministry.
    • Ministry is a marathon – not a sprint.
  • Self-Care is taking care of the instrument God uses to do His work.
    • We need to take the advice that we give to others.
    • “Most ministers don’t burn out because they forget they are ministers. They burn out because they forget they are people.”   Archibald Hart, Ph.D. Christian Psychologist
  • Creating a Rhythm
    • What does your calendar say about your priorities?
    • We must push to build time in for:
      • Healthy sleep/diet
      • Relationships
      • Intentional Learning
      • Recreation
      • Physical Exercise
      • Hobbies

Healthy Self-Awareness

Who am I? The Challenge of Identity

  • Healthy Identity is shaped by understanding our:
    • Personality
    • Family of Origin (modeling)
    • Comparison with others
    • Role Differentiation
      • How well can you separate your identity from your role?
      • How well can you accept your limitations?
  • Emotional health

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

  • EQ – the capacity for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
  • EQ is essential for health and resiliency within any leadership capacity, including the ministry.
  • EQ can moderately grow and change over time.
  • How do you grow EQ?
    • Self-reflection/awareness of who you are.
    • Feedback from trusted teammates.
    • Self-reflection upon relationship interactions.
    • Disciplined application of lessons learned/scripture.

A Mindset About Conflict.

  • The goal is not to have a life free of conflict… that isn’t going to happen.
    • Rather, the goal is to handle conflict well and to honor God while going through it.
    • “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18
    • Learn the skills of conflict resolution.
  • Understanding your own tendencies in handling conflict is very important when dealing with others (spouse, family, congregation, community members, etc.).
  • How do you handle conflict?

We are Vessels – not Solutions.

  • Avoid the ministry trap of self-importance.
  • Remember God is the potter, we are the clay.
    • For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Healthy Relationships

Marriage & Family

  • Raising a family in a glass house isn’t easy.
  • It is OK to disappoint people in order to have family time.
    • In life you are going to disappoint people. Make sure you disappoint the right people.”
  • Be careful to not use your spouse as a ministry “dumping ground” but embrace them as a “partner.”
  • Model “Godly jealousy” over your marriage and family. Show your children and church their value.
    • Invest time for dates, family nights, and getaways.
    • Advocate for your spouses’/children’s spiritual growth.
    • Listen well and be emotionally present.
  • How is your family being affected by your ministry?
  • Some keys to remember:
    • Make sure your children know ministry issues are not their fault.
    • Make sure you are spending intentional time with all members of your family.
    • Watch what you say around your family concerning ministry issues (little ears…).

Personal Relationships

  • Think through the depth of your relationships.
    • The nature of ministry can lead to isolation. How can I have relationships of any depth with those I am serving?
    • Who is your acct.? Your “ground?”
      • Ally vs. Confidant?
    • Purpose to build up relationship capital.

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