Recovery Is Necessary After Preaching

Recovery Is Necessary After Preaching

We turn now from the idea of using humor in your preaching, to something that isn’t funny at all. Recovery after preaching is necessary after preaching a sermon or sermons.

Charles Spurgeon, the famous London preacher, began a school for preachers.  The title of one of his lectures gave me pause recently.  The title was: “The Minister’s Fainting Fits”.  In this presentation he told his students that recovery is necessary after preaching and ministry.  Here’s what he said:

Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression….  How often, on Lord’s-day evenings, do we feel as if life were completely washed out of us!  After pouring out our souls over our congregations, we feel like empty earthen pitchers which a child might break.  

Have you ever felt that way?  My children, who are now in their 30’s and 40’s, remember what I was like on Sunday afternoons after preaching 2 or 3 times.  They knew to be quiet while I napped, or I might snap at and threaten them.  I realize now that part of the reason for that was that I was depleted.

Recovery After Preaching is Counter-Intuitive

Jeff Manion

Jeff Manion is both a preacher and a marathon runner.  He compares the preaching aftermath to recovering from running a marathon.  Here’s a summary of what he said in his book, “Dream Big, Think Small”.

The recommendations for recovery from a marathon are:

  • Drink a sports drink (but you don’t really want to because you’ve been drinking one all along the 26.2 miles).
  • Eat something immediately (but you don’t feel hungry, and even feel like you might throw up if you do eat).
  • Stretch (but your muscles are so tight that you feel they might snap if you do).
  • Walk or jog (the last thing you want to do at that moment).
  • Don’t get into a hot tub (even though it might sound good, what you need is a cold bath).

He then applies this to the reality that recovery is necessary after preaching a sermon(s).  You are depleted at that time in several ways: physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually.  So, what should you do?

Recovery Activities After Preaching

Here are some things that have helped me, and some things to avoid.

  • Rest physically.  One pastor friend said that preaching a 30 minute sermon was very much like doing
    physical labor for an 8 hour day for him. He needed to physically rest afterward.  I usually would come home, have a light lunch, and then go to bed for a nap–and I set no alarm.  There is a temptation that I faced in ministry to add things to my schedule on Sundays.  After all, it was a day others had off from work, and so, we could schedule things like committee meetings, Bible studies, small groups.  Be careful you don’t schedule yourself for things when you are physically drained.
  • Rest emotionally.  Do some things that renew you.  This might mean taking a walk, or sitting watching a fire, or getting together with good, trusted friends.  This is not the time to get into a conversation with your spouse or others about controversial subjects.  If you do, you’ll find that you are quick to fly off the handle.
  • Rest spiritually.  There is a danger after preaching that you look for something “mindless” to do.  On

    Sunday evenings I had a tendency to waste time with video games or television.  I know some pastors experience a pull to pornography that intensifies when drained after preaching.   The difficulty with these activities is that they don’t necessarily renew you.  So, find something that renews you spiritually.  It might be music to listen to, or to play (if you have the skill of an instrument).  It could be listening to a worship service on-line, and listening to another person preach. It could be some quiet time with the Word and prayer.

The Bottom Line

Recovery is necessary after preaching.  In the next posts we’ll explore this idea more fully.