17 Ways Pastors Can Hit the “Refresh” Button


Every pastor who still wants to be in the ministry five years from now needs to take a day or two off each quarter to hit the “refresh” button.

The most valuable assets we have, after all, aren’t our offices, computers, books and other tangible resources. Instead, our greatest assets are intangible—our creative souls.

By “creative souls,” I’m speaking about everything inside us that makes us who we are at the office (and away from church, too). This includes our knowledge, skills, perceptions, understanding, craftsmanship, and wisdom. It includes our abilities to come up with brilliant ideas, new solutions, artistic expressions, and bursts of insight and intuition that surprise us.

The most important ways to replenish our creative souls is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. How? In the Bible, in church history, in modern biographies, and in contemporary experience we see many ways to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Some of these ways may include…

  • Times to pray, praise God, confess our sins, and ask to be filled with the Spirit
  • Times to read the Bible in different translations, study the Scriptures, and meditate on specific passage(s) in God’s Word
  • Times to enjoy inspiring music (old and new), spend time in the great outdoors in awe of God’s creation, fellowship with another believer, and worship with a different group of believers
  • Times to make a list of the individuals who have made the most positive impact on you during each of your life chapters so far, to thank God for these encouragers, to thank each one as the Lord leads, and then to ask God to bless you with a “Barnabas” for this stage of life and ministry
  • Times to go on a personal spiritual retreat, intentionally live more simply in order to focus on what truly matters, and fast from food and/or water for a specific period of time for spiritual reasons
  • Times to take advantage of your region’s best Christian universities, including scheduling a meeting with a well-respected professor, signing up for an inexpensive online graduate course, and attending public events
  • Times to ask for guidance from one or more individuals you deeply respect who are godly and who you know love you, and volitionally choose to be under their spiritual direction, guidance, and counsel

Beyond the spiritual, there are many other ways to replenish our creative souls. Some of these ways may include

  • Times to use humor and get ridiculous in order to cleanse the palate, hit “Restart” and spark new ideas
  • Times to study human nature since people can be so many things: curious, self-centered, don’t want to be nagged, visually focused, enamored with the latest tech toys, etc.
  • Times to enjoy a mix of your region’s public and private university campuses, including their architecture, sculptures, interior artwork, libraries, lecture halls and public events
  • Times to brainstorm solo: relax, let your right brain go wild, write as fast as you can, write in any order, free-associate ideas, keep writing, don’t worry about word choice or organizing your ideas
  • Times to study what’s going on in our culture today, including trends and coming backlash trends and what might be happening five years from now
  • Times to feed the precursors of creativity so often lost in adulthood including curiosity, big picture thinking, open-mindedness, self-confidence, learning, etc.
  • Times to enjoy fertile environments in your region’s largest city, including its skyscrapers, huge public library, art galleries, and museums
  • Times to spend time with, be energized by, and continue expanding your networks of relationships with a wide diversity of creative individuals
  • Times to do a Google search for one of your favorite contemporary Christian authors, visit his or her LinkedIn or Facebook page and website or blog, enjoy new writings, and then connect and send a heartfelt “Thank you!”
  • Times to carefully read books specially selected for pastors who want to last. Eight such books have been game-changers for me. I’ll be glad to send you an annotated bibliography of all eight. Just send a quick email to me at dsanford]at[corban]dot[edu.

The key word in both lists? “Times…” If you haven’t already scheduled your first “refresh” day, please do so—within the next 30 days, please!

David Sanford has been a pastor for 22 years and serves on the leadership team at Corban University in Salem, Oregon. His writings have been published everywhere from Focus on the Family to Forbes.


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