So I bought some tequila this weekend.
My wife wanted margaritas on Saturday night. And I don't know where you are from but down here in Georgia, a good margarita demands some quality tequila. That's how I ended up in line at Village Wine and Spirits behind two women in their 20s buying all the necessary supplies for their friend's bachelorette party that night. By my count, they were either inviting every woman in Athens, or the bride-to-be wasn't going to remember the last half of May.
But their shopping spree aside, what caught my eye was this little red-and-white bottle called Never Hungover. Have you seen this? According to their marketing, you can party tonight and feel great tomorrow. All because of this concoction that they invite you to shoot or mix. No word on whether you can mix it with alcohol and double down on its powers of resistance.
Honestly, I didn't give the bottle more than a moments notice. But I thought about it this morning - a Monday morning - because I have friends like you that wake up every Monday with a hangover. All around the world, pastors and ministers roll out of bed after the weekend feeling like they have been hit by a Mack truck.
Mark Driscoll used to talk about Bread Truck Mondays. As in, the desire that pastors have to quit their job and drive a bread truck. Or said truck ran you over before throwing it in reverse and doing the deed again. This is the hangover I have in mind.
I didn't preach yesterday, and it's been a good two months since I woke up feeling this way (first Sunday of Spring Break for the University of Georgia...a dreadful day all around). So maybe this season of sobriety affords me the opportunity to pass along the cure to your pastoral hangover. If you're tired of dreaming of bread trucks (which seems particularly tragic if you're gluten resistant), then here's something better than that little red-and-white bottle at the package store. A cure for your hangover that is surprisingly simple. Ready for it? Cool. Just read the four words in the heading below.
Practice What You Preached
If you preached from the Bible yesterday, you talked about faith and obedience. I'm sure you said more and that you said it more particularly and provocatively. But repentance and faith (and the obedience of faith - Romans 1:5) are always on the menu, right?
What if the cure for your homiletical hangover is a dose of your own medicine? I understand if the labors of yesterday make sleeping in a smart play for you. And I totally get it if you prefer introverted behavior and need some time away from people on Mondays.
But this excerpt from Paul Miller's book A Loving Life stood out to me as I read it earlier today:
Many Christians get stuck trying to grow their faith by growing their faith. They try to get closer to Jesus by getting closer to Jesus. Practically, that means they combine spiritual disciplines (the Word and prayer) with reflection on the love of God for them. But that will only get you so far. In fact, it often leads to spiritual moodiness where you are constantly taking your pulse wondering how much you know the love of God for you. Or you go on an endless idol hunt trying to uncover ever deeper layers of sin. Oddly enough, this can lead to a concentration on the self, a kind of spiritual narcissism.
That struck me as particularly profound knowing the tendency to step away from our work as pastors to keep ourselves healthy - emotionally, spiritually and physically. And while I applaud this season where we're choosing health over a constant grind, I believe Miller is on to something.
In his next line, he says that God and his blessing are discovered as we obey, as we submit to the life circumstances that God has given us. 'So instead of running from the really hard thing in your life, embrace it as a gift from God to draw you into his life.'
What does that mean for you? First, it gives you permission to name the hard things in your life, including your job. Second, it tells you that you don't have to run after visions of bread trucks or another pastorate or your next vacation. Third, it points the way forward to a life of love that expects faith and obedience to bleed out of your life as a pastor on Monday.
Do The Next Right Thing
Take a few minutes to go back over your sermon from the weekend. How did you encourage people to see God's love for them from the text? Our message on 'persons of peace' in Luke 10 reminded me that in a world where not everyone welcomes me into their life, the cross and resurrection remind me that God always welcomes me. Even when I wake up on Mondays hungover.
So remember that God loves you. That's the first step. But don't miss this next step.
Understanding God's love for you, now go out and spend the rest of the day loving others as an expression of loving God. Not sure where to start? Think back to your sermon one more time. How did you shape obedience for everyone in the room? What was the next step you encouraged everyone to take? A life of love for the pastor on Mondays begins by practicing what you preached on Sunday.
For me, that means that I will pray for a handful of people that God has put around me. Loving them - taking on their burdens today - begins by offering their lives and needs to God's care.
What will obedience look like for you today? How will you support the cause of love before the day ends?
The cure for our vocational hangover always begins with God's love for us. But once we have our feet of faith beneath us, we deepen our faith - we know we're loved - by our entrance into a life of love.
How exactly will you put your message from last weekend into motion today? Let us know in the comments below.