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Raising the pastor’s performance potential

| by Jim Farrer

Many pastors work long hours and face the juggling of many tasks, but for the turnaround pastor the numbers of those hours and tasks mount quickly with new people to meet and new classes and teams to be formed in order to assimilate disparate individuals. All this can become exhausting. I have compiled several simple strategies which may raise the performance potential for any pastor.

Protein first
According to Judith Wurtman, PhD in Managing Your Mind and Mood Through Food, people in a Harvard study who ate turkey were able to concentrate and perform mental tasks nearly twice as well as those who consumed foods which were comprised almost entirely of carbohydrates. To really awaken the brain, give the protein a 20-minute head start and then add the carbs.

A NASA nap
Individuals have had varying experiences with the benefits of naps. James Maas, author of Power Sleep, asserts that a ten to twenty-minute nap in the afternoon should not leave you groggy while a 60-minute nap will.

A study by NASA found that a 26-minute nap increased pilot performance by 34 percent and alertness by 54 percent. What other management strategy can do that! A sleep mask to create darkness may help one fall asleep. It is also important to curtail hand and arm movement; perhaps one might hold a book.

Naps have been shown to boost memory, decrease frustration levels and aid tolerance. A large study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2/12/07) showed a 37 percent decrease in heart attacks due to a 30-minute nap three times a week. Psalm 127:2 reminds us “…he giveth his beloved (needful things during) sleep.”

Showers of blessing
Not only may a nap be helpful, but also a shower. Canada’s Globe and Mail (5/21/09) reported that showering during the work day helped employees demonstrate a 42 percent increase in productivity and a 33 percent increase in creativity. When a shower is impractical, perhaps splashing one’s face with cold water can provide some sort of lift.

Use the clock wisely
Men’s Health (10/19/94) reported that most people show an increase in mental acuity from mid-morning until around noon. Another bounce is indicated in the early evening.

Reboot into your “zone”
Jim Fannin’s book S.C.O.R.E. for Life and website have practical tools to aid peak performance. First, literally jumping up and down a few times before a meeting or a service gets your body into a different tempo. Second, experiencing “butterflies” or a nervous sensation is okay as it signals your readiness to deal with stress. Next, unclenching and dropping the jaw relaxes your body, and finally, when feeling really nervous, shutting one’s eyes, unhinging the jaw and thinking of nothing for 15 seconds, can generate a reboot into a “ready-to-go zone.”

A lift for the blues
Some years ago an Ohio State University professor discovered that depression could be diminished temporarily and mood could be enhanced by lifting arms and hands overhead for a short time. The pose is similar to a football official signaling a touchdown.

An early Christian prayer posture used hands and arms raised in prayer. Additionally this position can also remind us of our new standing/status connected to Christ.

One might also incorporate the ancient Hebrew Festal Shout found in Psalm 89:15.There is some question as to what was used in this action. One theory maintains that the Shout sounded nine short staccato notes on the shofar/ram’s horn.

Others suggest the people used “The Lord Rules.” (Psalm 93:1) In my own experience repeating “Praise/the/Lord” has been helpful. One might also read Psalm 136 aloud which repeats 26 times that the LORD’s steadfast/covenant love endures forever.

In my next research blog, I continue with "7 more ways to raise a pastor's perfomance potential."

Jim Farrer

A broadly-trained church consultant, Jim Farrer is the founder of Vital Signs Church Consulting and a member of the Society for Church Consulting. A veteran of ministry positions in Canada and the U.S., he has trained leaders from 18 denominations and led seminars and coaching sessions nationwide. His articles have been published in the Journal of Evangelism and Missions and the Great Commission Research Journal. You can reach him by e-mailing or calling 814 629-5211.

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