Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday...and Tuesday...and Wednesday...

Technically I haven't gotten to Wednesday yet, but I'm assuming it will continue the manic streak that is my life lately. Yesterday was supposed to be my day off. When my alarm woke me up to move my car to the other side of the street (alternate-side parking is the bane of my existence), I happened to take a look at my calendar for the day - which I was certain contained only one entry, the blissful monthly appointment that makes it possible for me to function: my massage.

The massage was there as expected. Unexpected, however, was the presence of another agenda item: "5pm Camp Board Meeting." Ugh.

I'm really not a fan of having meetings on my day off. Mostly because that renders it pretty much not a day off, and I only get one a week. Or none, in the case of Mondays in which I spend several hours in meetings, which has been all too common for the last couple of months. My weeks have been so packed that I seriously need a real day off - or three. Not a day in which I'm traveling somewhere. Not a day in which I'm trying to be on vacation or retreat but am actually writing newsletter articles, stewardship letters, and sermons. An actual day off. No, the week when I visited my family does not count. I count it as vacation time, but it is far from time off, believe me (not to mention that I was still working while I was there). I need a day off. Badly.

Yes, I am being completely whiny and entitled. What of it?

This, my friends, is what happens to ministers when they do not practice what is popularly called "self-care." They become exhausted and overwhelmed, which gets expressed in all sorts of obnoxious and unhelpful ways. I get cranky and irritated. Other people withdraw. At some point, we just shut down.

Ironically, I am not the world's biggest proponent of the self-care movement for ministers. I've seen it cause entitlement issues in my peers that have made them lazy, ineffective, and sometimes destructive pastors. I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for people who go into ministry and expect a forty-hour work week. Sometimes you get a forty-hour work week. Other weeks you have multiple crises and have to fit in your normal work too, and end up feeling lucky if you only work twice that number of hours. It's kind of like what I imagine being a parent is like: sometimes you just have to suck up the sleep deprivation, take some ibuprofen for the headache, and keep moving.

That said, I periodically realize that I can't just keep going at a breakneck pace forever. Eventually, I will actually make myself sick, because that is my body's way of telling me, "No, seriously, STOP." I'd like to not get to that point. I'd like to be able to just tell myself that it's time to slow down for a day or two. Even God rested.

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