Nothing relaxes me more, and gets me in a state of prayer, than going fishing away from
civilization. I try to get into the wilderness once a week during the warmer months. I
usually come back a renewed person.
I think one way of preventing burnout is by creating structure that allows for
"time-outs." It includes putting family events on the calendar and treating them
as seriously as church appointments. One of my favorite time-outs is "story
time." Right before my boys (10 and 6) go to bed at night, we have a 20 minute story
time during which everybody gets to make up a (often silly) story. I try to do this 3 or 4
times a week with them. Talking about quality time and recharging the battery--that's what
this is for me!!
I'm a new pastor in a new position, first time ever, full-time pastor (no pressure
there!). I love the people given to my care. Unfortunately, the church has no manse and
I'm commuting at least 15 hours a week until we find a place closer to the church. The
commuting is sressful! The one thing I do for myself - I protect my Thursdays, my pastor's
sabbath. That's time for my family.It's keeping me sane. reverend KJ
Anyone else feel guilty about taking time for you/your family? Right now I'm a new mom
(my daughter is nine months old), and while everyone in my two-point parish says they're
supportive, when it comes to things like me not being able to participate in all the
parish events I used to be part of, there is discernable anger and resentment. I'm worried
that this is a)affecting my attitude toward ministry and b) affecting how my husband and
daughter see the church, as rivals for my attention. Of course, I'm coming up on my
two-year anniversary in the parish, typically a time for congregational unrest, so that's
not helping any. But rationally knowing this and not letting it dig in to my gut s not as
easy as it might sound... I'd appreciate any and all prayers as my family, parish and I go
through the next few months of struggling to find our way forward together. (BTW, my
burnout test score was 34!) Heather
For several years now I have requested and been granted two "family weekends"
each year. I usually take them around a long weekend/holiday. They are not counted as
vacation time. We do not visit family or friends on our family weekends. It is our weekend
together. Sometimes we go away. Sometimes we stay home and do "day trips." I
choose when to take them with the stipulation I won't be gone Christmas or Easter Sundays.
Those family weekends have come to mean more than any salary increase.
I'm involved with Reserve Chaplaincy in the Canadian Army. I try to take the
opportunity to get out and go on as many Exercises as possible, just for a change of pace.
Nothing is more refreshing than working the physical to revive the mind.
I know not everyone is a military chaplain - however, perhaps get aways to another
place, outdoor camping or other such "different" exercises will help the stress.
I also like to get away from the phone, email and internet - so NO ONE can call me!
So, I would recommend retreats, of what ever nature is pleasing, refreshing and
interesting to you all!
Blessings on your ministries.
Lt DW Bos Canadian Army London ON
One of the things I practice is "comp" time. If I have several days in a row
where I work more than twelve hours I will take some additional time off. If I don't take
a vacation following Holy Week I will be intentional about scheduling a light workload
(sermon prep, visit the sick, Bible study, no meetings, no scheduled counseling sessions,
no extra curriculars). Of course if somebody dies my plans for a light week go out the
Often is the case that we have little time to self or self reflection. We become
spiritually depleated after giving so much to others. As a long commuter (12-15 hours per
week) I have discovered the grace of audio books. They can be purchased or borrowed from
your local library.
Generally we are so busy that we do not take the time to enjoy a good book. Time alone
in your car is a wonderful time to enjoy an audio book and arrive at your destination
relaxed. This self indulgence is also a way to use time without guilt feelings.
Ohio Seminary student from Michigan serving a two point charge
Some things which help: classical music on the car radio (I commute 1 1/2 hours each
day to work) I also like Prarie Home Companion, if I am still at work that late. I try to
get to enough AA meetings. I have recently started working with a spiritual director; for
Lent, I am going on a "television fast" to see what I learn from that. (It may
be that the tool I use most to relax may actually cause stress in my life.) I go on a date
with my husband once a week. And when my kids are home from college, I will put down a
sermon, in order to spend time with them. I like to garden, too. All of these help me
manage my stress. Which was a 26. That is an improvement in my case...
My stress/burnout test was 37 - an associcate pastor with lots of expectations at the
18th month of my ministry here. Also a relatively new mom - a 6 month old daughter and a 2
year old son. There is alot of professional friction between the senior and myself - two
healthy egos and different ways of doing ministry, in addition this is his first time as
senior (in a congregation where he used to be the associate) and my first call as
associate (coming from a solo call.)My lented discipline will be to decide if the
professional tension is something I can live with or whether I need to be in the mobility
process. In addition, I'm not sure that I'm cut out to be a "big congregation"
pastor (1800 members) Any insights would be welcome. Pastor Mary
I'm just on my way out now to the gym. For 1/2 hour I live guilt-free. I am taking care
of me, which everyone says I'm supposed to do. There is no phone... and no parishioners.
It is one of very few things I do where I have to stay totally self-absorbed. If my mind
starts wandering to contemplate the next youth group meeting or advisory board... I lose
count and have to start over :^) Could parishes be encouraged to pay for health-club
memberships for their clergy? Then finding time to get to the gym could fall into the
category of "making sure the Parish gets their money's worth"! Nay-oh-mee
I like to go to Mass about 1 morning a week at the nearby Catholic church. Few people
know me there, and no one has any expectations of me, and I can pray and worship in peace,
not worry about how the service is going. Of course, I respect the Roman Catholic position
on outsiders not taking communion, but the priest is a friend of mine, and I do go up for
a blessing--just like the little kids. Pastor Mary S. (not the same pastor mary who is a
few posts above, who I will keep in my prayers for a while. Now, she has reasons to be
stressed. Breathe, sister!)
For a quick release, I play card games on the computer. One or two rounds of solitaire
or hearts, and I regain perspective about whatever is throwing me into a tizzy (I'm the
youth director, so the "tizzy" happens a lot.) Plus, with the card games, my
competitive edge is curbed, in a healthy way! (I love the idea of the church paying for
gym memberships, though - I cherish my time on the treadmill.)
Aerin in CA
I had a sabbatical of 10 weeks a couple of years ago after going strong for 7 years. It
wasn't until I STOPPED everything that I realized how absolutely tired I was. And, it took
me close to a month to realize I really was not working... However, I made a resolve not
to skip a day off every week, and even to take another day at least once a month. This has
helped greatly. What I found I resented the most was the lack of time with my family--so I
put that in front again, and separated the feelings about my ministry from my family, and
relaxed. Prayer definitely helps, but we have to work with the Lord on this and remember
that there is a 7th day for rest.
You found your way to THIS site, so that is a step in the right direction. At least you are recognizing some of the stressors, and are seeking a healthy alternative to burnout.
Remember - Jesus took time away to pray. You can read about it in the Gospels. In your quiet time with Him.
As for me? I've started doing all the things I used to do for fun, before going into the ministry. For some reason - I took care of everyone else, and put myself on hold. It feels great again getting back into my old hobbies. AND spending MORE time with my family.