There is a phenomenon among pastors that is affectionately called the Easter hangover. When I first entered ministry in the days before the internet and social media, I thought I was the only one who felt it. When I would ask colleagues about the “day after” feelings they would act like I was a weak pastor who had not reached their level of spiritual maturity. It wasn’t until years later that I discover most of them were lying to cover their feelings of inadequacy.
Here is the reality that preachers might not tell you, most of us are entirely wiped out from the minute we leave the Church building on Easter Sunday. Yesterday my social media feed was full of posts about taking naps, total exhaustion and curling up into the fetal position.
The reasons that this week is so exhausting are numerous, and I wanted you to know a few of them that I have experienced this hangover it.
1. Our one big chance. Ministry is usually a slow conversation by conversation attempt to make a difference, but on Easter, the rules are changed. People come to Church who are seeking something spiritual, and this might be our only chance to reach them. I know I feel an enormous amount of stress over presenting the gospel in an engaging and instructional way.
2. Decisions, decisions. I recently read that one of the most exhausting things we do mentally is making decisions. This is why when you go on vacation you can come home worn out and need another vacation. It is because you spend your week deciding on where to eat, what to do and where to go. The week of Easter is kind of like that for preachers. We have to make decisions about who sings what songs, which video to show, what sermon to preach and on and on it goes. In the end, it is exhausting.
3. Spiritual attacks. I firmly believe that the week before a big day in the life of a Church community the leader is continually under spiritual attacks. There is a temptation that presents itself around every corner. It comes in the form of pride, lust, greed, and anger to name a few. Fighting these attacks can be draining emotionally.
4. The emotional roller coaster. There is great joy in seeing new people attend worship. There is a quick drop when that family leaves without making any connections. There is the joy of preaching the resurrection of Jesus followed by the steep decline of feeling like our sermon was boring, irrelevant or simply terrible. The week of Easter is an up and down ride of emotions.
5. Feelings of inadequacy. On Easter, a preacher talks about the most significant thing they know; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Talking about the weather or sports requires nothing of my soul. Speaking of Jesus death, burial and resurrection reaches deep inside my soul and touches the deepest part of me. It is the message that brings hope to my life, and I want you to like it so much. I want you to know the truth of Jesus and know the forgiveness he offers. Whenever I speak this deeply from my soul, the final product is emptiness. When I walked into my house after Easter worship, I felt like a player who has just given a hundred percent effort in a championship game.
I tell you all of this for a couple of reasons. One, I want you to know your preacher better. Whether they admit it or not, Easter is a wonderfully exhausting time. Two, I also want you to know it takes anywhere from 12 hours to six days for the preacher to get his head and heart right. This will not be his best week of ministry, but that is only because he poured himself out and it takes a little while to get filled back up.