1. You may want to check out Eugene Cho’s post from yesterday, “ Death by Ministry?” (See his first post, “Why is Being a Pastor so Unhealthy?) These reflections are based on the New York TImes article, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work”and a post by Todd Rhoades which you can find here.
I am thankful for these discussions. A few observations:
- It is critical that ministers take ownership and responsibility of their own health, including their own physical, emotional and spiritual well being. I am thankful to have first realized this a number of years ago. It dawned on me that no one else was going to take care of my health or well being. In other words, if I didn’t practice good management of my body, mind, and spirit, then I would have to deal with the consequences.
- One day a friend, a long time minister in the Dallas area, told me that if he was hit by a truck while crossing the street to the church building, the church would have a search committee in place by that evening! Of course this was an exaggeration. However, I got his point. He said that when he dies, the people in his congregation will go on with their lives. He was not indispensable. Realizing this encouraged him to pay more attention to self-care.
2. “Stop trying to get them to do stuff and just be who you need to be!” The previous statement is what my friend, a long time attorney, said to me one day. About fifteen years ago, I was having lunch with him. While we were eating lunch, I asked him, “How can I get our church to pray more?” I proceeded to elaborate on this concern. His response? “Stop trying to get them to do stuff and just be who you need to be. In other words, why don’t you just be a man of prayer and see what happens? Just live that way among these people.”
Many years later, I still think about that conversation. There is something to be said for simply being who you need to be instead of attempting to will another to change. In other words, sometimes ministers spend far too much time asking questions like, “How can we get the congregation to do this?” Quite often it is much better to simply be who you need to be with and before these people. For example, instead of begging and pleading for people to go to a particular conference, it might be more effective for me to communicate to them just how valuable this conference is to my own ministry and why.
3. Each year I go to several conferences, seminars, etc. I typically think about the conferences that I select to make sure there is variety, both in terms of perspective on ministry and even theologically. I find that going to several conferences where all of the speakers seem to be drinking from the same stream becomes redundant after awhile and is not as stimulating. One of the conferences that I have been attending for the last few years is the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. (This conference is simulcast all over the USA and in many, many other countries. I recently attended the simulcast of the 2010 Summit at Baylor University.) I have found this conference to be stimulating and thoughtful. If you would like more information, you might check Tim Schraeder’s blog for excellent summaries of each session. Or, you can check out the Global Leadership Summit website.