Take A Break Please, For The Sake Of Everyone.
A few weeks ago I attended a ministerial meeting where the question was asked about the pastoral practice of Sabbath. As I listened to seasoned leaders around the room, most simply did not have time for Sabbath, some were trying to work on it, others hadn’t really had time to think about it. I have to admit that I was a little shocked not that most pastor’s have trouble with Sabbath practice but that Sabbath practice for our leaders really isn’t an issue that our congregations are concerned about. This non-practice of Sabbath is a sinister liturgy that is creeping into pastorates everywhere.
As congregational attenders, we are proud when our pastor is working at their maximum capacity. We pat them on the back with remarks like, “Wow, I heard you worked 120 hours this week- you sure are making a great impact”, “Pastor, you sure are worth your weight in gold, its great to know we always have someone in the office.” and my favorite, “Thanks for sacrificing your day off with your family to come to this meeting.” These sycophancies just continue to induce an unhealthy practice for our leaders.
Just so you don’t think I am putting all the responsibility on the congregation, as leaders in the church Paul charges the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20:28 “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of God’s flock which he bought with his own blood.” As pastors and leaders in the church, it is Scriptural responsibility to “watch over yourselves.”
In an article posted by Duke University’s Faith and Leadership, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Duke’s Clery Health Initiative’s research director and assistant research professor at the Duke Global Health Institute cites this concern,
“Clergy recognize the importance of caring for themselves, but doing so takes a back seat to fulfilling their vocational responsibilities, which are tantamount to caring for an entire community,” Proeschold-Bell said. “They feel they need permission to take the time to attend to their health.”
So pastor/leader it is time to take seriously your health and the Sabbath. The next time a loving member of your congregation asks you to to another committee meeting or an “emergency”, you have the right to tell them, “So sorry I can’t make it, I have a Sabbath Day, and am booked with God.”
The above quoted article “Self-care is not Self-ish” by Kate Rugani can be found at http://www.faithandleadership.com/features/articles/self-care-not-self-ish