Beating The Day After Blues
After 15 years in ministry, and thousands of turns stepping up to preach, I know the dirty little secret preachers carry:
Sunday night is often a major emotional bummer. Monday is often worse.
For a long time, I thought it was just me. I would find myself emotionally down on Sunday night. Even more listless on Mondays. What was wrong? Maybe I was moody. Maybe I expected too much from Sundays. It doesn’t make sense. Why would the hours following our biggest, most fun day of work be a bummer?
Then a friend of mine shared a study he had found on public speakers, particularly those who were motivational speakers. The study theorized that people who spend their time getting revved up for a public talk spent so much energy on stage that afterward there was almost always a time of emotional letdown. Turns out, a whole lot of other studies have the same conclusion.
I don’t know whether the studies are valid, but I know that the theory sure seems to resonate. Just hearing about it freed me up. I wasn’t weird or messed up. I was just experiencing what many other preachers do:
The Post Preaching Blues.
Now that I spend all my time doing executive search helping churches with staffing, I don’t preach as much (except for clients), and I don’t have those post Sunday blues. But I do set aside more time than normal to pray for and reach out to my friends and clients who spent their day serving a local church.
I’ve also spent a good bit of time studying what can be done to help preachers and church workers get through the Post Sunday Blues. Over the next several Mondays, I will be sharing key learnings I’ve found that seem to work well.
This week's key: Take a deep breath, and realize you might be down because you did a great job.
If you’re feeling down on Sunday night or Monday, it is likely that you’re down because you were really, really up on Sunday morning. In other words, you left it all on the stage, and you did your job!
When friends hit a doldrum in preaching and ask me for advice, I often point them to Wesley’s famous prayer before preaching, “Lord, set me afire, and let the people watch me burn.” I tell them to preach their next sermon as if it were their last. Problem is, if you really do leave it all on the stage, there’s nothing left to take home.
Did you know that Billy Graham used to lose tens of pounds every time he went out on the road for crusades? He writes about the physical toll of preaching in his autobiography, Just As I Am.
Next time you’re feeling down after services, realize it may just be a result of doing a really great job, and take it easy on yourself.