There’s sort of a common joke among church leaders that pastors write many Monday morning letters of resignation. Along these lines, I once heard Rob Bell use the term “pastor’s hangover” in a sermon, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Perhaps it’s because I know what it feels like (although, mine are normally mild).
If I remember correctly, Bell stated that during a pastor’s hangover, the pastor wonders, “Did I really say that?”
The classic illustration for the pastor’s hangover is Elijah. After confronting the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and leading people toward tremendous transformation, he runs from Jezebel, hides in a cave, and prays that God will end his life.
Well, that’s a pretty extreme form of a pastor’s hangover. But then the transformation experienced among the people was pretty extreme, too.
Hangovers come after times of great boldness (boldness isn’t static). I think the areas where I feel the most bold are (1) praying, (2) writing, and (3) preaching. But it’s only after preaching that I sometimes experience a pastor’s hangover.
When I experience them, I can feel the boldness wearing off on Sunday afternoon/evening, especially if it was an extra-intense day, as yesterday was.
I imagine it’s a much more intense experience for those who battle depression. “Hall of Fame” preacher, Charles Spurgeon, battled depression, I believe. I remember reading a story about him where he once prayed that he would break a leg so that he would not have to preach at a particular place. And that was *before* the sermon!
Fortunately, my hangovers are generally mild and short-lived. Sleep does a lot of good. Normally, I’m ready to dive back in by Monday morning. And I haven’t written any Monday morning letters of resignation, so far. 🙂
But this underscores why pastors — people who are called to transform people and shape culture through the preaching of God’s Word in the “life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels” (Ephesians 6.12, MSG) — need prayer. See Praying for Pastors for a good prayer guide.
Well, your comments are always welcome. I especially invite preachers to share their experiences of pastor’s hangovers.