As leaders, I’m  confident we’ve all read that the average adult should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. I’ve also read that many, maybe most, don’t get enough and are to a large extent sleep-deprived a lot of the time; which can lead to other unfortunate situations that are harmful and unhealthy. Why would pastors and other leaders intentionally choose to sleep less?  Chuck Lawless (pastor and seminary professor) shares eight reasons why we make this unfortunate choice.

Why we shortchange ourselves on sleep

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless


Many of us in ministry get too little rest (and I’m one of the guilty ones), and we need to think about making changes. Here are some of the possible results of our not getting enough rest:

  1. We run the risk of inadvertently illustrating a gospel that ignores the body. As Russell Moore has written, “Because we believe in the resurrection of the body, we know our bodies are not expendable vehicles for our souls.”[1] We must not prioritize and idolize our bodies, but we cannot neglect them, either.
  2. We have little energy to do all that the pastorate demands. Pastoral ministry is not easy. It’s emotionally and physically draining. Rest helps us to have the energy we need for this work.
  3. We often neglect our spiritual disciplines. We’re just too tired to read the Word. Like the disciples, we sleep when we should be praying. And, we don’t steward our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16) to get the rest that God demands.
  4. We’re more susceptible to temptation. In general, we’re less aware and less alert when we don’t get sufficient rest. It’s hard to put on the full armor of God when you’re worn out.
  5. We’re often more short-tempered with others. Our family bears the brunt of our weariness, and our church members might, too. In fact, we might show who we really are when fatigue sets in.
  6. We lower our leadership capacity. I’ve been there, and you probably have, too – you’re so tired you can’t pay attention, and you can’t even remember the details of the meeting you led. Weariness almost always equals less attentiveness.
  7. We make ourselves more susceptible to other illnesses. A fatigued body is less prepared to respond to the germs and illnesses readily passed through church families that spend a lot of time together.
  8. We’re likely undisciplined in other areas of our life as well. Seldom have I met a person who is undisciplined in only one area. Those of us who choose not to get enough rest usually make unhealthy choices in other areas, too. For example, I usually don’t eat well, either, when I’m not getting the rest I need.

Please pray for me about this issue. And, what other results would you add to this list?