I have been in pastoral ministry for seven years and over these last seven years I have seen many pastors disqualify themselves from ministry, quit the ministry, and continue in ministry void of any real passion or vision. Though there are many reasons for the "burning out" of pastors, I would argue that one may be, a lack of a hobby. With that in mind, here are 3 compelling reasons why pastors need a hobby:
#1 - PASTORS NEED ESCAPE FROM THE WEIGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY THEY CARRY
It's heavy. The responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the congregation. The responsibility to attain financial sustainability for the organization. The responsibility of leading a staff/pastoral team. The responsibility to consistently preach clear, compelling, and convicting messages from the Word of God. The responsibility to discover, develop, and deploy leaders. When each responsibility is taken seriously, "success" in each of these areas can weigh very heavy on a pastor's heart.
A good hobby, on the other hand, is not heavy. A good hobby is not emotionally draining. A good hobby does not require leadership. Instead, a good hobby provides a momentary release, escape, and outlet for a pastor to experience joy and happiness in an arena that doesn't have eternal consequences! A hobby is not heavy, and, for a pastor, this is healthy.
#2 - PASTORS NEED EXPERIENCE WITH BEING PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN CHRIST
As startling or offensive of a statement as that may be, the reality is, 97% of the people a pastor ministers to are passionate about something other than Jesus Christ and their relationship with Him. People are passionate about work, family, wealth, etc., and if a pastor doesn't have a real-time understanding of being passionate about things other than/in addition to Christ, He will be unable to connect with a majority of the people he comes into contact with. He will be ill-equipped to understand why/how a person could have deep affections for something other than faith. He will be unprepared to speak into, from a first-hand experience, how passions can leave you unfulfilled and wanting more.
A hobby can give a pastor a taste of why people would invest so much time, effort, and energy into a thing. A hobby can give a pastor a feel for why someone would want to spend their Sunday mornings doing something other than go to church. A hobby can also be a reminder to a pastor, in a very real way (because a hobby can only be so fulfilling), of the sufficiency of Christ! Experience with a hobby, gives pastors empathy for people who are passionate about a hobby and this is healthy.
#3 - PASTORS NEED EXPOSURE TO NON-CHURCH CULTURES AND NON-CHRISTIAN GROUPS OF PEOPLE
Church can be a bubble. The programs. The people. The priorities. If a pastor is not careful, the church can actually isolate him from the very world he went into ministry to reach! If a pastor leads Christians on his staff, interacts with Christians on Sundays, meets with Christians during the week, and goes to church conferences with other Christians, how will he even be aware of a culture other than his own?!
Whether it is running, traveling, hiking, cooking, etc., every hobby has a culture - a way things are done, a lingo, and a community who interacts with each other around their passion. Exposure to the culture within a hobby as well as to the non-Christians within the culture can give a pastor an awareness of the world that is absolutely necessary to reaching people outside of the church. Not only does exposure to non-church cultures equip a pastor to more effectively "speak the language" of the world, it also can give a pastor ideas of elements of culture that a pastor can "bring into" the church! Consistent exposure to a hobby's culture, pops the bubble of Christianity's culture, and, for a pastor, this is healthy!
Though there are many "dangers" to a hobby, for pastors who are neck deep into their pastoral duties and overwhelmed by their responsibilities, I'm convinced a good hobby can be a gift from God. A good hobby, properly engaged with, can keep a pastor joyfully and effectively serving in ministry for more years had he not had one.
How do I know this to be true? Because I have one, and it has been one of the best decisions I have made in my seven years of pastoral ministry. So what is my hobby exactly?
I am a collector of Air Jordans. And most recently, I have focused my efforts on collecting the models and colorways that Michael Jordan wore while playing in the NBA.