This week, Duke Today published a story that outlines many of the Clergy Health Initiative’s research findings and underscores how important it is that any health intervention designed for clergy (like Spirited Life) truly be designed for clergy. That is, programs need to take into account the many factors that shape how clergy spend their days.
One of those factors is the expectation (whether real or perceived) that pastors place others’ needs before their own.
Our belief — and it’s one that we stress regularly with our Spirited Life participants — is that while it’s not always easy, taking time for oneself is essential. For if, as pastors, you’re not healthy in body, soul and mind, you may struggle to share the grace you have received with those to whom you have been sent.
That is, in part, what this blog is all about — providing ideas and strategies that you can use to find time for yourself. But we also want to learn from you.
Do you feel pressure to put others’ needs first? What strategies (however small) have you employed to make time for yourself?
— Kate Rugani
(Photo of Rev. Veranita Alvord by Donn Young)
I really try to protect my Sabbath time. Sometimes that means looking at my week and moving my Sabbath from its usual day if it different things are happening. But keeping that rhythm has been immensely helpful.
I’ve also started recommending Sabbath practices to others in my congregation. My hope is that by building up others who take that time, it will be easier to explain to the church why it is so essential for me.
I think both of your suggestions are great ones, and I really like the idea of recommending Sabbath practices to others. Do you have suggestions on how to broach the topic with members of your congregation? Do you work this into a sermon on occasion, or does it mostly come up when you’re approached to do something on a day set aside for Sabbath?
For the time being, I’ve approached the topic with folks on a 1-on-1 basis. If I hear statements about feeling overworked, rushed, tired, etc then I’ll suggest a Sabbath time. For most folks a whole day sounds too much, so I try to suggest smaller blocks of time as a start.
I haven’t tried working it into a sermon yet, but I think that’s a good idea to explore in the future.
Thanks for the insights, John!