The hard push through Holy Week and Easter is finally in the rearview mirror. Some congregations celebrated the resurrection in person this year for the first time in three years, making this Easter an extraordinary liturgical moment in those communities.

But from a theological and programmatic point of view, we know that Easter is not the end of the story. A few weeks after the resurrection, Jesus sent the disciples into all corners of the world to be his witnesses. The fact that there is still more to do, even after all we’ve already done, is enough to make some leaders feel a bit overwhelmed.

As you plan for the next season of leadership, it’s important to ask a critical question: How will you rest and recharge? Reenergizing ourselves for the work requires a deliberate plan. We plan meetings. We plan to roll out new mission initiatives. What we sometimes fail to plan is the downtime that makes it possible for us to thrive in ministry.

We are returning to pre-pandemic levels of in-person interactions, and more pastoral leaders will again be called upon to deliver face-to-face guidance and consolation in addition to the virtual work that’s not going away anytime soon. To be effective, clergy are expected to act in particular ways. We are called to be empathetic, patient and available. The emotional and psychological effort required to fulfill these expectations at work is known as “emotional labor.”  The challenges of emotional labor make rest imperative. Hopefully, on this Monday after Easter, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Give yourself space and time to reenergize so you can be a more effective leader and your most faithful self.

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Before you go…

One fact I faced early in ministry completely transformed the way I think about self-care: I realized it was highly unlikely that anyone was going to take better care of myself than I would. People only know what we tell them, and if we tell everyone that we are fine, they will take us at our word. I’m not suggesting that we gripe and complain to our congregations. Rather, we simply need to be self-aware enough to do whatever we can do to take care of ourselves. Let people know what you need before you become emotionally exhausted. If we can’t go away for the weekend, perhaps we can still take a Sunday off and spend the weekend doing what gives us peace and joy. I hope you will do that for yourself.

You can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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