Rev. Dr. Darrell Zimmerman, longtime pastor and Grace Place Wellness Ministries’ Executive Director and CEO, has authored the new book Reclaiming the Joy of Ministry. Grounded in scripture and following the story of the prophet Elijah, Reclaiming the Joy of Ministry is a practical guide for developing skills vital to a successful life in ministry, including self-care, balance, healthy relationships, and spiritual well-being.
Drawing upon his 20 years of experience developing retreat experiences for Lutheran church workers (including couples retreats and congregational retreats for both church members and staff), Rev. Dr. Zimmerman’s favorite adage is the “airplane oxygen mask speech”– that church workers must tend to their own wellness needs before they can provide care for others. Top priorities should include vocational, physical, and financial health.
The first chapter of the book (lesson one of ten) is entitled “Ministry is Great, But Hard,” and is typically an early lesson for church workers. “People depend upon their pastor to be at their best during a crisis when you need them,” said Rev. Dr. Zimmerman. “You have to take care of your spiritual and physical life and your well-being so that when the Lord calls, you can get up and go.”
Rev. Dr. Zimmerman stresses to church workers that they do not have to present themselves as perfect in every way. “Humans make the best pastors. We all depend on the grace of the Lord. …to share the gifts of God, you have to be a receiver of gifts yourself.”
Regarding the book’s scriptural foundation, Rev. Dr. Zimmerman explains, “Elijah is a biblical example of a church worker who lost the joy of ministry. He went on a mountaintop retreat and the Lord came and ministered to him... The famous story of Elijah collapsing serves as a model for us – he became frustrated and discouraged and he was renewed – that’s the model that we follow in the book.”
Rev. Marty Hasz, PLPC, Assistant to the President for Church Worker and Congregational Health (Missouri District LCMS) added, “Rev. Zimmerman’s book … contains a series of best practices founded on our one trustworthy resource, the Word of God. In my counseling research I learned that joy is the single emotion that prepares humans to venture closer towards one another... Darrell’s Gospel-centered encouraging writing would be great for a Bible study, book discussion group, among church leaders, elders, staff or for individuals. The Missouri District has purchased a copy for each Circuit Visitor.”
Purchasing Reclaiming the Joy of Ministry directly from Grace Place’s website (https://graceplacewellness.org/book/) saves readers 25%, verses purchasing off Amazon. An e-book is also available on Kindle.