Keep fuller notes. Your teaching notes need to be more detailed not less in these seasons. Push through the fog and don’t compromise your teaching preparation. Don’t cut it short, but trust the Spirit to work through your brokenness.
Focus on grace. Don’t give in to guilt when you’re tired. Emptiness prompts the heart to feel guilty for your lack of joy and devotion. You will generally be praying less, and less engaged. Remember, you still need the gospel like everyone else, and God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9). If you struggle with finding your identity in your performance, then I recommend “A Pastor’s Justification” by Jared Wilson.
Reread the “E* mails”. Years ago a pastor told me to keep a few of the encouraging notes, letters, pictures, and emails that people send me. “When times get tough,” he pressed, “you’ll need some encouragement. Pull these out and reread them.” He wasn’t wanting me to live in the past nor ignore possible present failures, but to remind me that God is using me as a flawed vessel for his glory despite my present feelings of uselessness (2 Cor 4:7).
Counsel carefully. Watch out for people of the opposite gender suddenly needing your wisdom and your time (Prov 7:4-9). You will long to know that you have worth and value and will be more prone to an affair.
Take a break. Not necessarily a vacation, but a break. Take time away from the normal. Don’t be so accessible. Put the mobile phone away or, heaven forbid, turn it off for a while. Take email and text off your phone for a few weeks. Give some space. Go on a spiritual retreat to a monastery or country cabin (Luke 5:16).
Mix up Bible reading and prayer. Usually, Bible reading and prayer are stale in this season. Mix it up. Breaking your routine is okay. Pray walking outside. Read Philippians and take in the joy of the Lord. Meditate on a verse instead of feeling obligated to read 4 chapters, etc.
Stop listening to Chandler, Piper, and Platt. In other words, turn the podcasts off. Maybe you don’t struggle here, but if I listen to these men (or others) during these times, I feel even more like a failure. I hear their passion, clarity, and conviction and wonder why I’m even teaching. “I have no right to stand and proclaim God’s truth.” The enemy is the master at getting you to give in to the sins of envy, false comparisons, and jealousy (Gal 5:20). You are fully equipped for the ministry to which God has called you. Those men are not responsible for your ministry, nor you theirs. Just take a break from their podcasts for a season.
Get Prayer. Call a friend, confess your struggle, and get them to pray for you. Leaders are notorious for isolating themselves. How dare we believe prayer works for others and not us (Jms 5:16).
Daily make a determination of the will. Daily choose to obey the Spirit and not your feelings (Gal 5:16). When your tank is empty you will be emotionally flat. However, at the same time, you will want to give in to sins that make you feel something as stated above. I strongly challenge leaders particularly to avoid surfing the Internet and television. It regularly leads to lust. A wise man not only resists temptation, but avoids it (Matt 6:13). Set your will on that which you know to be right regardless of feelings.
Flat times of ministry often pave the way for a fallen ministry. Be careful my fellow leaders.