No, I did not have too much communion yesterday. I am not talking about drinking my mind away in order to celebrate and/or get over the busyness of the Lenten season or Holy Week. I have not drowned myself as a reward for all of the extra services and such. I'm just tired.
So is your pastor, I'd wager. It feels a bit odd to talk about this as a retired pastor, but I am helping a church in the interim right now so I get to claim all of the rights to talk about this. When I was serving in the pastorate, I was one of those typical ministry leaders who would take a week of vacation right after Easter as well as right after Christmas. When our kids were young, it made sense to do this anyway because of school schedules.
I am not writing this to remind you again to take care of your pastor. I am actually writing this in hopes that he or she might read it. Self-care is not an area of speciality for most clergy. If we're truthful, we are usually pathetic at it.
Through one lens, we really cannot be blamed for this. God's calling into the pastoral ministry brings with it a passion to serve. We don't mind the late night phone calls. It does not bother us too much when we need to run to the hospital to help someone facing a crisis. We are not put out when we have to meet the needs of others because that IS a big part of the vocational ministry call.
Our spouses and children understand because we explain it to them so carefully. God is sharing (daddy/mommy) with the people of the church so they can experience God's love and compassion. We convince ourselves that the previous statement is true even though close inspection would clearly teach us that they do not always understand. Nor should they!
God did not call us to obliterate everything else in our lives. God's call is first and foremost to be a beloved child of God, period. If we have been blessed with a family, then our secondary call is to be everything our families need us to be. This is best expressed through presence. God's call, when vocation is involved, should come in this order of priorities in our lives. Yes, I know, "forsaking everything...", but that does not mean to become some sort of absent jerk to those you love the most.
Pastor, your first best role in ministry is to exemplify what God's love looks like by the way you share it with those you love the most. I have failed this lesson more times than I care to admit, and it always happened when this became my priority list:
This messed me up every time. I would find myself fatigued, giving my family nothing but leftover energy and emotions. When God's work became #1 instead of its rightful position of #3, my family never got the best of me. What is worse, they usually just gave me knowing smiles and hugs and assurance that they still loved me no matter what. Oh, the times I wish I could have back.
Pastoral self-care begins here. It is not time management. It is priority management. There are several other aspects to self-care that I will share in other posts. Self-care involves spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational aspects.
For now, today, as we deeply exhale after our seasons of Lent and Holy Week, all I ask of you is one simple question; Now that another season of busyness is behind you, how will you give intentional, extra time to your family? They have missed you. Take care of yourself by showing up for them.