Here’s a scandalous thought for you… Do something for YOU! Do something for yourself. I will now describe what I do for myself and why. Be prepared!
Lately I’ve become extremely aware of how I have been living my life for the past two or three years. I’ve come into two important realizations. One – as an unpaid “volunteer” status worker [which a lot of people don’t realize] I am spending upwards of 55 hours a week working and over 70 hours a week during the summer. Two – every year around the fall, specifically November, I begin to feel extremely run down, exhausted, and a little burnt out. These are two things that have happened for a couple years – consistently – and I’m just now figuring out this pattern! I’m not quite sure what made me really understand and figure these things out… it’s only my own life! How did I not figure this out sooner?
Well, I see the importance of balance and maintaining a sense of control in your day to activities as to avoid going crazy! I’ve
always [at least for the last five years or so] been very faithful to take a Biblically commanded sabbath day. I do not work, talk about work, or discuss ministry/work related topics on my day off. This is something that I must do in oder to keep my sabbath and honor the Lord with that time. I honor the Lord by keeping His command and by taking care of myself, my husband, and my family. This keeps me sane! Especially considering the history I come from with an “overly busy” ministry family [remember my definition of ‘overly busy’?], it’s therefore very important for me to make my day off a day of rest and true separation from work! It’s so funny to think that most non-vocational ministry adults usually get the weekend off – two and half days off! The vast majority of my friends get out of work friday evening and don’t have to go back to work until monday morning. Wow, imagine?! Pastors and ministry workers get one day, and sometimes when emergency happens not even one day a week is sacred. [Disclaimer here: Emergencies are granted, it’s a part of the job. I still love what I do, don’t worry! And don’t judge!]
I realized that even after Clark and I have been faithful in our day off’s for the last two years of marriage and two years of dating life… I still end up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by the time the fall season hits. September and October are so busy and by November I’m totally pooped. I’m feeling absolutely no motivation to get back into the office. That’s where the “doing something for me” plan comes in.
Next year I definitely plan on taking some serious time off in fall, however, I don’t want to be feeling even more overwhelmed than this year if I can help it. Even if I take the stress down 10% that should be helpful, right?! In the past I had some sort of “head knowledge” of the importance of doing something for yourself, but historically in my line of work anything other than selfless dedication at any cost really doesn’t appear acceptable to anyone. Busyness is seen as accomplishment. Rest is seen as laziness. Many of you may see the correlation to modern society’s thoughts of busyness – Pastor’s have been doing it for years! I guess we’re ahead of the times. Yet sadly, this is why the rate of Pastor’s burning out and leaving the ministry every year is so high. The average youth pastorate is about nine months. I’m committed to not becoming a statistic. So let’s see… statistics [and experience] say that Pastor’s typically are overworked, underpaid, live high stress lives, and still have families and marriages to take care of. Statistics say that five years after Bible College graduation only 20% of those students are still in ministry. Twenty years after Bible College graduation only 5% of those students are still in ministry. Wow!
Basically, I use “blogging” as my outlet! This is what I do for myself. I enjoy blogging – it’s fun! I even believe I can help other people through the topics I discuss when blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep far away family members updated on your life. Blogging can become a bit time consuming [by some standards], but I don’t feel guilty about that because this is my “thing for myself”. Everyone needs something that they enjoy and do for their own appreciation and sanity! Enjoying this “fun” part of my life enables me to be better in my other areas of life. Blogging also requires me to think and write about my life including the things and people that matter to me… which never denies me a very self-aware existence. Self awareness [if you have nay soul at all] challenges you to become a better person, which for me means a better Christ follower, better wife, better friend, better mentor. So, all in all, doing this “thing for you” can even be seen as a thing you do for your loved ones, your children, your husband, your coworkers, etc. Think of this: wouldn’t they all want you to be the best you can be? The healthiest? The happiest? The bravest? Then, take care of yourself. I promise your life will become at worst slightly more manageable.
So, I blog. I take my day off extremely serious. I put the utmost importance on my weekly Thursday night date with my husband. I recognize family time on Monday night’s. I try to plan times for my friends to be together. I celebrate important life events like birthdays and anniversaries and I try to make holiday’s special [like my grandmother did for my mother]. Shouldn’t these be the basics? I put my trust in the Lord that He will give me rest and take care of the rest of my life. Did you know – it’s the Lord that takes care of your family? Not YOU?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message