I did not preach yesterday. I sat out there instead (right behind you, Steve and Heidi).
But many Sundays, I do preach, and after every Sunday, there is always Monday.
On Sunday, you’re out there. On Monday, you’re in here. It’s just you and your reflections. Maybe you’re off on Mondays, or maybe you’re in the office.
I’ve found Mondays to be very hard days.
So let’s talk about those Mondays. If you are not a pastor, consider forwarding this to your pastor. She might need to read it.
Yesterday, you got up in front of a bunch of people and said some things about God, about yourself, and about them.
Maybe it felt good at the time (or maybe it really, really didn’t), but right now it feels like the worst idea in the world, that someone would climb onto a stage, and say things about God, about themselves, and about those people out there listening.
Rob Bell calls it the preacher’s hangover.
“I said what? I told them that?”
It’s my experience that the severity of your preacher’s hangover is directly related to the degree of vulnerability with which you showed up. Vulnerability in the pulpit doesn’t mean that you just shared personal stories, it means that you took a risk and said what actually is happening: in the world, in your church, in your life.
If you do that a lot, your Mondays might suck.
If you don’t do that, your Mondays might be fun, but your Sundays will suck. Because people are so hungry for somebody to finally get up there and say what actually is happening. So I’m going with some Mondays that suck, because that’s part of the price of Sundays where movement and beauty and messy come together and form something really, really good.
Here are some things that I’ve learned to do over the years to help with the sucky Mondays. Practicing these simple things doesn’t stop the hangover from coming, but I’ve found them to be helpful.
1. On Sundays, when my last talk is done and almost everyone is gone, I ask someone to pray for me. I ask them to pray that God would release me from feeling the pressure of carrying what I just gave away. That God would give me the gift of going home to my family and enjoying them. I’m not really picky about who does this. In fact, the more random the person, the better. Then, before I leave the building, I pray: God, thank you for inviting me to partner with you, once again. You know what hangs in the balance, and you shepherd that. Please release me from feeling like I have to hold it all together.
2. I try not to open email on Mondays (I take Mondays off). I know. How hard is it? It’s harder than you think. There’s something about engaging in the action that I like. But way too often, an email will come which feels harsh, or which makes me believe that it’s all up to me, and that’s not what I need on my day off. And even the positive emails – I don’t even want to feed on those on Mondays. If you work on Mondays, consider spending a large portion of Monday morning without opening your email.
3. Decide as a family what you need when you first get home on Sundays. For me, that’s a quick lunch and a nap. I need to be alone for a couple of hours, and then I can engage with my boys again. This always feels a little selfish, but if I don’t do this, I get cranky around 5pm. And again, it’s what we’ve decided as a family, so it works.
4. Remember that God is doing something much bigger than your sermon. I tend to think my sermons are pretty important. And they are. So are yours. But it helps me to remember that the Kingdom of God is so much bigger, and in a good, humble way, my sermon was a mustard seed. That’s all. I don’t know, and can’t see, what it did. And that’s OK.
If you’re a pastor, how do you deal with Pastor’s Hangover? What does your Monday routine look like?