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If I got to rank what I love about my job, preaching would be in the top 2. I love the prep, working through a passage, a series, thinking through how to best present an idea, praying about those who will be there and that God would work in their lives and draw them to Himself through my meager attempts at presenting His word.

There is a downside to this love, it is what happens after preaching. The recovery. Recently, Katie and I met with a doctor to talk about how to handle the adrenaline that goes with preaching (I’ve heard of pastors who sleep for days after preaching because their bodies can’t handle the adrenaline): the emotional, relational and spiritual drain that it can be. The doctor asked, “Is it like teaching a class?” It’s different for one reason, eternities hang in the balance. I heard one pastor describe preaching as “reaching into the road to hell and pulling people back” (I realize there are some possible theological problems with that, but you get the point).

This process has been especially important for me in the last 2 weeks as I have preached 3 – 4 times a week at different places.

The crash a pastor experiences the day after preaching can be brutal. Your whole body aches, your eyes hurt, you feel as low as you have felt all week. There is a joke that pastor’s share that they all want to resign on Monday morning because of this feeling and feeling like they have nothing left to give. Mark Driscoll calls it “bread truck monday.” Meaning, you either want to quit and go drive a break truck or you feel like you got run over by a bread truck.

In talking with our doctor we started to work through some ideas.

Ways to cope with the adrenaline and the highs and lows of preaching:

1. Keeping the day before and after preaching as stress free as possible. Don’t have meetings, stay focused on preaching and recovering.

2. Do something the recharges me. Hiking, running, playing with my kids, reading a book, drinking coffee with Katie.

3. Have some people who call/text to encourage me afterward. This is crucial (especially for me as my love language is words of affirmation). A few guys from church let me know how great Saturday was, ask me how I am feeling  and let me know they are praying for me and my family.

4. Eating. Most pastors are notoriously poor eaters. What you eat before and after preaching is incredibly important, especially if you preach at night like I do. What you eat will make it easier or harder to preach, to sleep, to recover. Eat something that is light, will sit well and won’t give you indigestion.

5. As quickly as possible, move onto next week. Regardless of how your weekend went, good or bad, the next weekend is coming very quickly. So move on. Don’t dwell on what happened (especially if it is bad). Celebrate what God did, learn from what you did poorly, but move on.

A great book that I came across this summer that was really helpful on this was Adrenaline and Stress by Archibald Hart.

Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, which is trying to live out the rhythms of Jesus. The church's dream is to "help people find their way back to God."

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Mark Aarssen

commented on Feb 1, 2016

Thanks for this article Josh it is very timely. I knew there were several good reasons why I take Mondays off. Great suggestions for the day after.

Jeff Glenn

commented on Feb 1, 2016

Great article. Yes I agree that preaching on Sunday can be physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually draining. Just imagine how us bivocational pastors feel on Monday!,

Dean Cook

commented on Feb 1, 2016

Very good information. I was a bivocational pastor for six years. I preached three times a week with only a few exceptions. I've estimated that I preached at least 900 sermons during that time. And I worked 50 hours per week at my "real" job. I did not take care of myself though, especially in terms of accountability and my own spiritual and emotional fitness. And I failed morally and left the church. There isn't nearly enough space here to evaluate all that happened, but suffice it to say that the advice in this article should be taken seriously. I absolutely loved being a pastor, especially preparing and presenting sermons, but I got arrogant I suppose and failed to keep God in His place. Or rather I failed to keep myself in my place. But God is always good. ,

John W. Hull

commented on Feb 1, 2016

I remember hearing Dr Hart recommend pastors NOT take Monday as the day off, because of adrenaline drop, use it for routine things, letters, phone calls, reading, etc.,

Lafern Cobb

commented on Feb 2, 2016

This is very disturbing to me. I'm 63 years old and find myself with more energy and enthusiasm. Sleeping for days after preaching? Oh can do that? I would like to make more comments but won't simply because this article obviously wasn't written for me. I am concerned that a pastor so young would need a doctors help to cope. How will you feel after 34 years? Nehemiah 8:10. I also wonder how many who have gone before would respond to this article........not judging just wonder .....,

Lafern Cobb

commented on Feb 2, 2016

This is very disturbing to me. I'm 63 years old and find myself with more energy and enthusiasm. Sleeping for days after preaching? Oh can do that? I would like to make more comments but won't simply because this article obviously wasn't written for me. I am concerned that a pastor so young would need a doctors help to cope. How will you feel after 34 years? Nehemiah 8:10. I also wonder how many who have gone before would respond to this article........not judging just wonder .....,

Stephen Belokur

commented on Feb 2, 2016

I do not understand this condition and am not able to relate with what it describes. May the Lord strengthen us for the task to which He has set all of us.

Jerry Owen

commented on Feb 5, 2016

I am a full-time pharmacist and bi-vo pastor. I preach 3 times per week. Sunday night and Wednesdays are teaching sermons with deep teaching, but rather informal as I encourage my people to ask questions. Sunday mornings, though, are "preaching" sermons. I have not experienced what Josh described to that level, but I find that when people talk to me after the morning service I often cannot remember anything they said to me later. As a pharmacist, I have always believed it is the emotional rush and the adrenaline high. Also, the pressure of the desire to see people "snatched from the gates of Hell" that was described can be attributed to that fatigue. Emotions can hit people like a ton of bricks with very different results for different people. For me, what helped to overcome and/or minimize that was to not dwell on my sermon at all once preached. When I get home, I watch sports, play video games, shoot my bow in the back yard, or anything that will help me wind down and recoup. And, at times, I finally learned to take a short Sunday afternoon nap. Another thing, we must take the pressure off of ourselves. We are merely God's speaker of the gospel, as all saints are, and we can't save anyone, that's the Holy Spirit's domain. I know we all "really" know that, but knowing it in our heads and realizing it in our hearts are quite different things.

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