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A pastor's life is filled with both ups and downs. Sundays can be either. Good attendance, a message well-received and positive people can make it an up day. Low attendance, poor offerings and critical people can make it a down day. However, in my 30-plus years of ministry, whether Sunday is up or down, I've found that most of us pastors often face the Monday morning blues.

What can we do about them? Here are six suggestions I've learned through the crucible of church life.

1. Remind yourself that one down Sunday does not determine destiny. Sometimes my sermon is barely a bunt. Sometimes it seems the harder I preach, the more people's eyes glaze over. Sometimes everybody decides to take their kids to Six Flags on the same Sunday and attendance tanks. Stuff happens. But I've discovered that when I take the long view of ministry, those down Sundays don't loom as large.

2. Refuse to second guess. Sometimes I'm tempted to dwell on how I could have organized my sermon to make it better. Or I wish I had not preached so long. Or I wish I had responded more tactfully to a critic. Potentially, I could rehash the entire day and beat myself up for what might have been. But I've learned that second guessing in that way seldom solves anything. Yet there is value in a healthy review, which leads to my next suggestion.

3. Develop a learning mindset. I've tried to create a learning environment at our church. I encourage staff and volunteers to learn at every turn. If something doesn't go well or fails, I ask the person involved, "What did you learn?" It's just as helpful for us to ask ourselves that same question. Objectively reviewing a Sunday service will yield good learnings. But the purpose is key. Review, not to focus on what went wrong, to then ruminate and regret. Rather, state what went wrong and ask yourself what you can learn from it to make things better next time.

4. Realize it's normal to feel a bit out of sorts. Sundays are usually stress-filled days, and our body turns up the stress hormone cortisol and the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is involved in reward and motivation. Usually Mondays don't offer as much stimulation, so your body is adjusting back to normal levels of these chemicals. As a result, you may feel a bit blue and unmotivated. There's probably nothing wrong with you. Give yourself a day and you'll feel back to normal.

5. Never forget that feelings and thoughts don't really mirror reality.  When we feel down and discouraged, it's easier to believe our feelings and the commentary we add to them. I'm a ... I just can't ... I'll never ... Our church will never ... Stepping outside our thought stream and reminding ourselves that our feelings are not reality is easy to do, but hard to remember to do. Yet, so very necessary to keep a healthy emotional life. The next suggestion has helped me do this.

6. Think about what you are thinking about. The term for this skill is called metacognition. In other words, pay attention to your inner chatter that goes on when you daydream and think about what happened on Sunday. Neuroscientists tell us that we have five times more negative networks in our brains than positive ones, so we naturally dwell on the negative. Because of this, they've discovered that a wandering mind tends to make us unhappy. So during the day when you feel blue, periodically listen in to your silent, mental commentary and change it when it turns negative.

As I'm well into my second half of life, I'm realizing that managing the Monday morning blues actually gets easier. Perhaps it's because after so many years of mishandling them, I've finally learning how to deal with them. Perhaps it's because I'm more able to keep a big picture perspective. Perhaps it's simply a result of growing wiser. Whatever the reason, I imagine the same will hold true for you, no matter what stage of ministry you're in.

Remember these words from the writer of Hebrews: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus."

What has helped you deal with the Monday morning blues?  

Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada, and the founder of StoneWell Ministries, a pastor coaching and church consulting ministry. He is the author of four books including, "People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership" (IVP 2014), and his most recent book, “Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry” (Abingdon, May 2015).

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Jeff Glenn

commented on Nov 10, 2014

Great article. I really needed this today!

C Jury

commented on Nov 10, 2014

Yes! Great Article! My senior pastor was gone, I worked hard on the sermon, heard the Lord, was excited to preach but looking from the pulpit everyone seemed disconnected and sleepy. 2 weeks before the sermon went fantastic. I thank you for your comments as I was feeling most of what you were describing. I was faithful to what God asked me to do. What helps me most is to see Christ's face in my mind and ask him if He is happy with me. I always see a yes. I also usually don't allow myself to think too much about it until I get some rest. Thank you so much! Lot's of encouragement!

Keith Roberts

commented on Nov 10, 2014

You've touched on something that I suspect affects all of us in ministry more times that we might realize. For myself I find that running is a great antidote for the blues whether it occurs Monday morning or at some other time. The literature that I have read on the value of exercise indicates that it releases endorphins in our brain which in turn improve our overall attitude. I realize that running is not for everyone but one should be able to find some form of exercise that they like and reap the benefits physically and attitudinally.

Lanny Smith

commented on Nov 10, 2014

I've learned over the past few years to not take anything I think about on Monday too seriously. That whole 2nd guessing, critical mindset is too easy to fall into. I also try to give my mind permission to wander and not concentrate too hard. It seems to clean out all the junk from the weekend. Finally, I would add to the list to take Monday off if at all possible.

Lawrence Webb

commented on Nov 10, 2014

Someone has said, "Every sermon is three sermons: the one you plan to preach, the one you preach, and the one you wish you had preached." it's easy to get hung up on the third kind. "I wish I hadn't said that. I wish I had said it better." I recently laid aside a half-completed (and maybe half-baked) sermon and started over much later in the week than I prefer. I felt the Lord telling me it wasn't working.

Cedric Chippendale

commented on Nov 13, 2014

Great Article and very helpful...Is there an article on how to handle Monday after an effective sermon and a very moving response?

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