by Joel Comiskey
The medical profession talks a lot about preventative medicine. The goal of preventative medicine is to keep patients out of the hospital, rather than offer them medicine once they are already inside.
Pastors, coaches, and cell leaders also need preventative “medicine” to stay healthy over the long haul. I’m referring to helping leaders live a healthy Christian lifestyle to avoid major problems from occurring, such as burn out, immorality, depression, or spiritual dryness.
We talk a lot about making disciples through cell ministry, and I promote this. Yet, if those who are discipling others (pastor, coach/supervisor, cell leader) are not taking care of themselves, their ministry will soon lose its cutting edge effectiveness. Often the leader will simply quit. The excuse might be “I’m too busy,” but often the real reason has to do with dryness with God, conflict at home, burn out, or spiritual attack.
It’s important to remember that leaders are first and foremost human beings, not human doings. Those who are coaching and caring for leaders need to first prioritize the leader’s spiritual life, emotional well-being, marriage, and family. When the whole-person is cared for, there is a far greatest chance that the leader will continue to bear fruit over time.
Sadly, some pastors and coaches are very demanding, controlling, and put ministry success before relationships. They pressure leaders to multiply cells, fulfill goals, and make the church grow. But what happens after the goal is reached? How many leaders and cells are going to be around for a long-time to come? Remember that ministry is not a 50-yard dash; it’s more like a marathon. Ministry takes place over a life-time, and only the healthy leaders make it long-term. The unhealthy ones quit for a variety of reasons.
Whenever I coach pastors, I try not to jump right into ministry. I don’t immediately ask them about their goals, their new multiplications, or their discipleship equipping. I first try to start with their own lives. During the coaching session, I try to cover:
- personal devotional time
- relationship with spouse, relationship with family
- day off, vacation time
- prayer covering
These areas might not be the urgent “right now” needs in the church’s life or the ministry of the pastor. Yet, if a pastor is so busy that he fails to spend time with his wife, for example, he will surely suffer in his ministry sooner or later.