Five Ways to Be a Happier Pastor Right Now


God does not promise happiness, so believers should not feel entitled to it. However, I don’t believe God desires for His children to be unhappy.

Happiness is about your emotions, while joy is a God-given posture. The former often rises and falls based on external factors. The latter is an internal stabilizer provided by the Holy Spirit. Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit and a greater pursuit than happiness. But seeking happiness is not a fruitless endeavor.

Pastors should lead with their emotions. Being a spiritual leader requires an emotional investment in people. Shepherding a church is more than theological truths and spreadsheets. Likely, you will experience a broad spectrum of emotions as you lead others. Sadness, anger, confusion, and other emotions will happen as you lead. But generally, I believe pastors should be happy.

What is your default emotion? How would congregants define you emotionally? My pastor is sad. My pastor is angry. My pastor is confused. My pastor is happy is the better option.

Leaders go out in front and show the way. Your emotions are included. If you are regularly happy, then people who follow you will also tend to be happier.

Happiness is tactical. Simple actions can often change your mood, even in the moment. Consider these five basic tactics to be a happier pastor.

1. Don’t weaponize social media. Posting on social media is just as loud as standing on a street corner with a megaphone. If you’re consistently angry and loud on social media, then your emotions will be heard by everyone. Literally everyone. The entire world. Social media anger should be used only in the most significant of cases. Would you take a megaphone into a grocery store and yell about an issue? If not, then keep it off social media. Being quarrelsome is a disqualifier from ministry in the same way as adultery. Consider a better option. Make your social media feed an encouragement campaign. Happy pastors are not social media trolls.

2. Be more generous with your one-on-one time. Check your calendar. How often do you spend time with church members individually? You should have one-on-one time with a different church member every week. Any pastor of any size church should have this time with people. Take the initiative to spend more time individually with various church members. Have a no-agenda approach. Happy pastors enjoy the presence of people.

3. Make a small gesture of appreciation every day. Handwrite a thank-you note. Send a grateful text. Stop and pray with someone. Purchase an unexpected gift card for a key volunteer. If you have staff on the church campus, practice management by walking around and giving random compliments. Happy pastors demonstrate regular appreciation to those around them.

4. Lead with levity more often. Tell a joke. Pull a prank. Be silly with a kid. Ask an elderly member to tell you a funny story. Levity is one of the most significant ways pastors can connect with the people they lead. Happy pastors laugh a lot and help others laugh as well.

5. Celebrate little wins in a big way. Organizational culture typically changes in steps, not leaps. When you make a big deal about the little steps, then the little steps happen more often, and you tend to move more quickly. You go farther with speed walking than the long jump. Bring donuts to committee meetings and thank members for progress made. Incorporate more stories into your sermons involving the impact of behind-the-scenes volunteers. Create an appreciation award for a church leader and present a trophy or plaque. Happy pastors take many small steps but make big progress over time.

 Spiritually, joy supersedes happiness. But I also believe happy pastors are better shepherds for their congregations.

Posted on February 2, 2022

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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  • Herman Awola says on

    A pastor is a teacher like Jesus. Those called by God to teach people everywhere are happy looking because happiness and joy are carried on faces and it is the first contact to another person. A person’s sadness and peace can manifest itself on his face before spreading around. A pastor must love people and care for the needs of the people. He/she must be a father of the vulnerable and a problem solver and peace maker. He/she must be humble, unjealous and unselfish. and must control emotion that can cause pains to individuals, groups or community.

  • Danny R. Risinger says on

    Thank you for the article “Five Ways to be a Happier Pastor Right Now.” This is a message that every pastor should take to heart. I especially appreciated and resonated with your comments regarding postings on social media. Believe it or not, like it or not, as pastors, we are being observed and evaluated by our actions and words.

    I know we are called to preach and teach the truth. No, we shouldn’t apologize or back away from sharing biblical truth, but we can be guilty of communicating truth in inappropriate ways and for inappropriate reasons. We need to be aware that social media amplifies our voice more often in negative ways than positive. That’s why we need to be constantly aware of our motive for sharing and how our words might be taken out of context. A happy pastor will resist the inclination to use their position as an excuse to vent personal frustrations.

  • Please learn to celebrate. Baptisms, marriages, births, etc. are not to be feared. Even if baptism cuts in to your sermon time, so be it.. Also, please talk to the younger people in the congregation and go to their Sunday school class periodically. Listen to what they tell you without condemning them. Please don’t condemn them to hell especially for the sins of others. (I have been.) Let them see you teach the faith, not church polity. The young are not the future church, they are the church. Liturgical clergy offer absolution to everyone who made a genuine confession and pass out the bread in communion and tell everyone the same words, “this is the body of Christ, given for you.” People who are liked more don’t get different words or better level of absolution.