It didn’t take me long as a guy in ministry to learn what the “Sunday crash and burn” is. Twenty years ago, I typically led a Sunday morning service, afternoon choir rehearsal, and Sunday night service. Back then, Sunday night was almost as involved as the morning except with fewer in attendance. Even with the nap on Sunday afternoon, the crash still hit. The worst I ever experienced it was in my first ministry here in the area where I currently live. I would get to the church at 8:30 to do a sound check, 9:45 Sunday School (sometimes I taught), 10:45 worship service, eat lunch, get the kids down for a nap, return to the church around 3:15 to unlock the building, 4:00 choir rehearsal, 5:00 Life Group (which I led), then 6:00 evening service. At that time, I rarely had time for a nap. By 8:00, the body ache was kicking in. Ibuprofen was my friend. Even with one service now, I still crash. Why is that?
I believe everyone experiences a certain rush in a level of intense work. Those in the medical field feel the rush and pressure of saving lives and doing all they can in emergency situations. Those in law enforcement experience a similar thing. As people in ministry, we too feel a sense of urgency. We want to help rescue souls. We invest our blood, sweat, and tears into prayer and preparation. The adrenaline kicks in on Sundays or at other times we minister. But what happens when we come off that mountain? We crash!
I believe this is what happened to Elijah on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18. Here he was with all the prophets of Baal. Elijah was receiving instructions from God that would lead to a major miracle in Scripture. He was surrounded by these prophets of Baal who were desperately cutting themselves to prove who was the bigger power – their god or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God revealed himself there, and Elijah crashed.
Some are so quick to criticize Elijah for this. His weakness after this victorious moment led to his fear of Jezebel. Many preachers are quick to tell Elijah to put on his big boy pants and be a man, when Elijah was demonstrating the weakness that all of us have when we expend our energy.
The work of those in ministry is an intense spiritual work. I don’t know that I can explain it well after two decades of it. I don’t know that my friends in ministry can either. But I do know that we can relate.
So, what do we do? It is important to care for ourselves. Get rest. Stay hydrated. Savor family time. Stay spiritually fed. Be constant in prayer. Stay in awe of Jesus. Don’t isolate. Everyone needs a Sabbath day of rest. EVERYONE! Rearrange your schedule and take it. If you don’t take proper measures to care for yourself, you could so easily become another ministry casualty. Stay close to the feet of Jesus and allow Him to restore your soul over and over again.