Ok, they might not be secrets but they are counter intuitive. I’ve been privileged enough to meet, and get to know, many great pastors, and what separates them from the rest is probably not what you think. Sometimes we are guilty of judging a pastor or leader based solely on their public giftedness. In other words, we believe great pastors are great speakers or visionaries. While they probably exhibit those qualities, I have found 4 consistent qualities in almost every truly exceptional pastor that I know.

1. Counseling
So many people think counseling is only for weird people with problems, but counseling for most pastors is their monthly detox from all the emotions and stress they carry around. It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of, as a matter of fact, it screams of security and health. Going to counseling provides you an audience with someone who couldn’t care less about your church “success” and couldn’t care more about your mental and personal health. Only 10% of ministers retire as a minister. That’s scary. We have to take care of ourselves.

2. Coaching
Iron sharpens iron, and coaching sharpens leaders. Once a leader is confident and secure enough to ask for help, they are able to learn from leaders in churches larger and smaller than theirs. Good coaching is not just about content, it also provides connection and relationships with other pastors and leaders that help you navigate the relational challenges of ministry. I can say personally, that coaching saved my ministry.

3. Sundays off
I’m shocked every time a pastor explains to me why he can’t miss a Sunday. I totally get it. So many of our churches are built on our personalities, but the fear we have of our church falling apart if we are away is really unhealthy. If you have to preach in order for the service to work, you are either an egotistical maniac or a poor leader who hasn’t developed anyone else around you. It may take time, but you need to set a date on your calendar today for the next 2 Sundays you’re choosing to take off, and begin training and working with your leaders to handle the day.

4. Extended Time off
We’ve already mentioned Sundays off, but you and I both know when you take a Sunday off your mind is still at the church. It actually takes 2 weeks of vacation to rest your mind and unplug from our “everyday world.” That’s why it’s so important to take extended time off as a pastor. It’s not easy, and fear that the church won’t make it will fill your mind, but it’s not true. Your church is better when you are better, and you are better when you have extended time off. Look back at the numbers from the last 3 years to figure out which month is historically your lowest attended, and go ahead and schedule 2-4 weeks away from your church. Your people will thank you after you get back and they see a better version of you.

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