>> August 27, 2010
It seems that any time we plan a date night, someone ends up in the hospital. On family days, there's guaranteed to be a call for emergency counseling. Or someone will drop by unexpectedly for a visit.
Which is all okay - we know we can't control when crisis will strike. But we still learn to hold our breath when scheduled "family time" approaches.
I'm blessed to have a PH who intentionally tries to set clear boundaries for family time. More than once his church elders have shooed him out of a late evening meeting so he can get home to say goodnight to our son.
But he also has a soft heart and a generous impulse - which makes him a fabulous pastor, and a devoted husband and father - and often leaves him torn between the two. I can't even begin to imagine the heartache many fellow PWs feel from PHs who aren't so sensitive to family needs.
It can be hard to keep priorities straight, especially if your congregation tends toward the needy side. "You start thinking of things like your church being your legacy instead of your family, and you just get all out of balance, all out of whack in your own relationship with Christ, allegedly for good reasons." (Pastor Rich Teeters, as quoted in "No Rest for the Holy")
As a PW, you can encourage your PH to take one day each quarter for spiritual rest and rejuvenation. Get him to actually put it on his calendar. Otherwise you know it'll never happen. My husband loves to drive out of the city, tie his hammock to a tree on a hillside somewhere, and just read and pray and listen to God. And yes, sometimes he misses a quarter, but it's a good goal to have.
Check and see if your church has a policy for sabbaticals, too. Our denomination offers a 6-month paid study sabbatical after 7 years of service. Other churches have similar policies:
While recent research has focused largely on mainline Protestant churches, some Jewish leaders have begun to encourage rabbis to take sabbaticals.No matter how demanding church duties become, help your PH remember that his priorities should be God>Family>Church, and not the other way around. "Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way... Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer." John Wesley August 7, 1760
“We now recommend three or four months every three or four years,” said Rabbi Joel Meyers, a past executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis. “There is a deep concern about stress. Rabbis today are expected to be the C.E.O. of the congregation and the spiritual guide, and never be out of town if somebody dies. And reply instantly to every e-mail.” (Read the rest at No Rest for the Holy, NY Times)
If we get kinks in our lifeline to God, we can't pass on His love and teaching to others. If our families are neglected and lonely or out of control, we cannot lead by example.
A FEW LINKS & RESOURCES ABOUT PASTORAL BURNOUT:
- No Rest for the Holy: Clergy Burnout a Growing Concern, David Gibson, Politics Daily
- Soul Care the the Roots of Clergy Burnout, Anne Dilenschneider, The Huffington Post
- Taking a Break from the Lord's Work, Paul Vitello, The New York Times
- Study finds Canadian clergy burned out, isolated, The Presbyterian Outlook
- National Clergy Renewal Program
- Clergy Health Initiative, Duke Divinity School
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