When I was starting out as a pastor, I wish I would have known that Sundays are often hard to let go of. Recently I saw a tweet from Thom Rainer (@ThomRainer) “There are two Sundays in a pastor’s week; the one they are getting over and the one they are getting ready for.” This statement is so true. It is frustrating to be well into the week and still be processing the previous Sunday at a time I should be fully focused on the coming Sunday.
Granted, it is necessary to be aware of what transpired the previous Sunday. Evaluation is always a good thing and should take place each week. But for a pastor it goes deeper and is more personal than just checking the numbers and the “feeling” of the services.
The pastor replays his message over in his/her mind after a Sunday. Sometimes many times. The pastor replays comments made about the service over and over again. Especially if there were any negative comments. A pastor plays the “if only” game about the previous Sunday. The “if only” game is where you recall things that you wish would have gone differently and imagine how the services would have changed “if only”.
All of these replays and wonderings can take precious mental and emotional energy away from preparation for the coming Sunday.
I wish I would have known just hard it can be to let go of the Sunday I have just finished. I have learned some coping skills through the years, but I still wrestle with the previous Sunday almost until the coming Sunday arrives. Though I have learned to use the experiences of the previous Sunday to help me in the coming Sunday, I often find myself still fighting with things that I should put behind me.
So if you see your pastor staring off into space with a perplexed look on his/her face in the middle of the week, just pray for them as they learn from and let go of the previous Sunday. I must also confess that sometimes when I am stuck staring off into space in the middle of the week it may not have anything to do with the previous Sunday, I may just be wondering if there are any chocolate chip cookies still in the church kitchen from the last potluck meal. I am sure my wife is shaking her head as she reads that last sentence.
So to the younger pastors: you are not losing your mind if you are having trouble letting go of the last Sunday. But don’t let the previous Sunday rob you of the joy of looking forward to the coming Sunday. Expect God to speak through you. Expect God to move in powerful ways. Expect some things to not go as planned. Expect to play a little “if only” and expect God to carry you through to the next Sunday and all of the ones to follow.
Excuse me, I suddenly feel a need to go check on the state of the church kitchen.