We have all had "high" moments and experiences in life. Times we were really looking forward to and projects we were working on. Those days or moments arrive and we are sky-high. Our emotions are running away with us. We are so pumped up and feel like we will never be the same again. But then the project is over, that moment in time is now in the past and things are back to the way they were. Where does that leave us? Usually, it leaves us in a wreck, crashing back down from an emotional high. At least that's how it works for me. And that is how Easter is for many in ministry.
My senior year of high school was a good year for me. It was spring of my senior year and I had worked hard at my football craft. It paid off when I was invited to the Central Illinois All-Star Football Game. I played wide receiver but split time with players from all over the region. It was one of the highlights of my entire high school career. But when I woke up the next day and realized my football career was over and that I would probably never play another football game my entire life, I came crashing down emotionally.
You know the feeling, right? You felt it when you got your first car and you couldn’t be brought down. Until your parents started having you run all their errands. You felt it when your first child was born. The euphoria from being a first-time parent was crazy. Your emotions were all over the place. Gifts came rolling in. Family and friends visited. There were balloons and streamers. Figuring out how to work a car seat was fun. Driving home with your week-old child in the back seat for the first time and you were the most defensive driver on the planet and you yelled at everyone else for their bad driving all the way home. Or was that just me? Maybe it was me.
But then your newborn doesn’t sleep. Maybe they have colic. Everything seems to suffer and as much as you love your baby, you come crashing down thinking to yourself, “What in the world did we just do?”
We have all rushed into the high feeling and loved every minute of it. But inevitably on the other side there’s almost always a crash. That was Easter. This past Sunday. You rode the high. You worked so hard for weeks or months, to get ready for one day. And now it’s over. It’s in the rear view mirror. And the tendency for us is to crash. We think of all the things that went wrong. Everything outside or inside our control that we would change. We put a weight on our shoulders that we aren’t meant to carry and it can crush us.
So here are 4 things you can do to avoid that post-Easter crash and stay spiritually healthy for the next season.
Take a day this week and set it apart for God. The focus here should be, “God, I can’t do anymore. I did what I could on Sunday. I trust you with the results. And no matter what they are, I will be faithful.” Give God a day the week after Easter to simply walk away from ministry stuff. This is a great time to go on a hike, hit the local park, visit a museum or find a cabin outside of town. Spend the day resting with your family and trusting God. *side note: honoring the Sabbath is also a great way to help your spouse and kids not grow to hate the church because of the time it takes away from them.
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. [Exodus 31:15 NLT]
Ask your staff and teams how they saw God at work. What was God doing beyond anything that you could see or plan for. As you collect those stories, be content to say, “I planted. I watered. God will grow it.” When you as a pastor can trust God to that degree, I guarantee that crash after Easter will be far less painful and traumatic. I’m willing to be this shift in perspective will help remove the crash entirely. And these “God stories” will fire you up to go into the next week ready to reach people, not depressed and ready to quit.
One of my favorite Old Testament stories is Joshua leading the people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. He tells them to set up 12 stones as an altar, one stone for each tribe of Israel. He tells the people our children will ask us about this altar. It’s here to remind us what God has done in this place. That God showed up and stopped the flowing Jordan River so that we could cross. There’s something powerful about remembering what God has done in the past. Look back to last Easter. Remember your crash? Remember how you had to try and pull yourself back up after that? Remember how you had to crawl your way back to the office? To write that next sermon? But despite all that, God used you and grew you. He did things in people’s lives despite you. Remember? Yeah, that! It’s not about you. It’s about what God is doing and has done in the past. So if you want to avoid the post-Easter crash, take some time to reflect and remember how God has been working in the past.
These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever. [Joshua 4:7 NLT]
Everyone worships a little differently so this is not about best practices for true worship. However, it is about surrender. The biblical concept of worship is to surrender something to God. What is it in your life that you should give up one day or for the week? What sin do you need to confess and surrender? Maybe that sin of believing Easter was really all about you and your sermon and that the Holy Spirit of God was reliant on you and your awesomeness to do any work. No? Again just me then, huh?
Maybe as you spend time in prayer or listening to worship music, there’s something coming to mind that you need to surrender to God. Now is the time. Stop relying on your own strength. Stop putting it on your shoulders. Surrender it to our loving Father. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If you’re feeling the weight, you’re not doing it right. God doesn’t want you to crash to prove how loyal you are to the cause. He wants you surrender so that people see His glory and how good He is. What can you surrender this week?
Sabbath. Collect. Remember. Worship.