By David Higle

Sustaining Pastoral Excellence

The most fundamental level of self-care is the pastor’s personal relationship with God in Christ through the Spirit. Everything in the pastor’s life flows from and is dependent upon the spiritual condition of the heart: continual growth in the depth, breadth, and intimacy of love for God and others. Take 5 minutes to read and think about how God might be speaking to you right now:

Protecting the Spiritual Life of the Pastor

  1. The primary task of spiritual leadership is attentiveness to God . Ministry begins in God. It continues in God. It ends in God. Staying focused on God is the central challenge of ministry. Realize I can lead others to recognize God’s presence in their world, only when I am first aware of God’s presence in my world. How consciously aware am I of God’s presence in my life? 2. Be aware of what is authentically God at work and what are simply your human compulsions. Sometimes my compulsions reveal something that I actually desire to experience in my life with God, but that is missing. What are my compulsions? Am I prone to the 24/7/365 way of life? If so, might this be a signal of a greater need in my life? What might that be? 3. Be aware that a primary cause of ineffectiveness among clergy is poor self-awareness. Cultivating a close, intimate relationship with God will help me know and face myself better and more honestly. How well do I know myself? How does my relationship with God help me better own up to and face my limitations?

    4. Cultivate a close, honest friendship. None of us can be faithful to God on our own. As a spiritual leader, I need to develop deep, long-lasting relationships with others who will love me no matter what. Someone I can trust, with whom I can share my failures, fears, and joys. Someone who will speak truth into my life, but in love; someone who will keep me honest. Do I have a close friend who will love me unconditionally? If not, who do I know who might be such a friend?

    5. Balance your constant outward activity with slower, more contemplative prayer practice. Learn to simply be in the Presence of God. I need to take just a few minutes each day to sit still and let my thoughts, fears, and anxiety drift toward him. To bask in God’s Presence. Such prayer helps put my life into perspective. It is like walking in a lush garden where God sends a gentle rain to refresh my spirit (Teresa of Avila, 16th century Christian).Are my prayers always actively asking God for things, or do I take time to allow God to impress upon me his loving Presence?

    To read further about these suggestions for cultivating your spiritual life as a pastor and your true calling, read the full article by Janice Riggie Hule, written for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence here: