Recently, I've had several church members say to me, "You look tired lately," or "You seem distracted."People have voiced concern often enouth that I have to be honest with myself and them and say, Yes, I'm tired.
Tired, in a good way, because things have been going so miraculously well at church. We've been starting new outreaches, doing new ministries, working toward a new building, trying to be innovative in worship. We've seen new people's names written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and rejoiced with the angels in heaven. We've been brushing up on multilinguality (is that a word), visiting the sick, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, all to the glory of God! We've been giving mice cookies, And it's wiping me out.
Now--lest I be misunderstood, let me say that along with the overwork has come the blessing of a new group of people who has committed to coming alongside and helping. All churches are full of committees--groups of people with a common task. Not all committees are created equal, in that not all committees do what they're assigned to do. You see, there's a difference between being a committee and being committed.
This new group is not a committee--it's just a group of people who are committed to helping. They are the AdMinistry volunteers. These are people who have said, "I know the pastor is overworked, and we're volunteering to do whatever it takes to ease that burden, whether it's as simple as stocking the pews with visitor cards and making copies, or whether it's as difficult as organizing a special event." These people are lifesavers! Because of this new group, the church is already able to minister more, and I'm able to drop my work hours to a manageable 55-60 hours per week.
Of course, having worked secular jobs as well as pastoral positions, I know from experience that
55-60 hours per week in ministry is more emotionally taxing than the same number of hours in a secular job. That's because of the emotional toll of bearing other people's burdens. It's also because you work such wierd hours that you never have a big block of time to call your own. Just church work here, there, and everywhere.
Before I say too much and give you the wrong impression, let me say that I LOVE WHAT I DO! I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. But I have been thinking a lot about self-care.
My family members are church members, too--and they need me.
And guess what--I'm a church member, too--and I need me.
So I'm feeling monkish lately--drawing inward so I can have the energy to turn outward.
- I've been finding more time for prayer and God's word.
- I've been keeping a journal (besides this blog) of my spirituality.
- I've begun a long-term fast (no, it's none of your business what kind of fast) for spiritual reasons.
- I've committed to guarding family time more closely.
- I haven't been writing my novel lately, and I'm not going to worry about that right now.
- I've promised myself one day a month for a nature / prayer retreat--my personal Holy Day.
- Spouse and I are working on repainting/redecorating my office so I have a nice place to work and pray.
- Seeking Peace, by Johan Christof-Arnold
- Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics: Lifestyles for Self-Discovery, by Marsha Sinetar
- Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form, by Basil Pennington
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.