After a long and challenging summer I'm feeling rather worn down. Physically, mentally and spiritually. The first two are relatively easy to mend. I'll take a couple days off leading into the Labor Day holiday and just catch up on sleep and time with loved ones. In a few days time I'll be right as rain (of which we've gotten an awful lot these days). It's the spiritual health that bothers me. Because the most obvious ways to refresh myself are at least partially blocked right now. Normally I'd just focus on Sunday worship, that wonderful time of prayer and thoughtfulness. But I've become deeply involved with videotaping our 10 AM service and that keeps me away from "my" pew and family. Yes, I could just show up for the 8 AM service and work the second service but it doesn't put me in a pew with my wife. Plus it makes the process a burden to me. Get up early (an unnatural act for your gentle author), listen to the sermon twice (our clergy are wonderful and fine preachers. But there are durn few sermons worth hearing twice). Is there a goodly bit of laziness and self centeredness mixed in there? You betcha. But this is where I am right now. I'm not feeling spiritually fed and that's a very bad place for anyone to be. An even worse place for someone who is answering a call to minister to the spiritual needs of someone else. It is my hope to find sometime soon to go on a short retreat, off into the woods by myself to rest, pray, think, read and perhaps write. I hope that this will help recharge my batteries spiritually.
But it also strikes me that this is a recurring theme in a lot of what I read about ministry in general. We neglect our own spiritual health because we spend all our energy on others. Eventually we burn up, flame out and leave. I can't believe that this is the way it's supposed to be. Take a moment and do a personal spiritual inventory. How satisfactory is your faith life? How is your worship life (not the same thing!) How much time have you invested in the care and nurture of your own soul? If you're not happy with the answers (and you shouldn't be happy if the answers are of the "I'll get to it, there are other things I need to take care of first" type) then the time may have come to reassess what you're doing and how you are approaching your ministry. I find it impossible to believe that God wants ministers that burn like the sun for only a short time then wander through the remainder of their lives as the burnt twisted remnant. I'll keep you up to date on how the planning and the retreat itself goes.