i realize i was quite chatty last week on the blog. Sometime Friday afternoon it hit me why i was so giddy and relaxed: i was not preaching; the intern preached (by the way she did an amazing job!). Amazing how not having to preach totally changes the way one views and experiences the week.
All over facebook today friends and colleagues posted the NY Times article on clergy burnout. Why those of my tribe experience burnout, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and etc at such higher levels than other professions boggles my mind.
I look at colleagues who never walk away from their job, who trade their families for their jobs or who never cease talking about their job. I have had my moments of bringing my work home (solved by a new family rule - I cannot come on Friday till my sermon is done, I am not allowed to work on it at the house over the weekend). I have been known to have tunnel vision and only read theology books or only talk shop (the sudden lack of friends ruled this one out, I now keep up with athletic teams just to force myself from being one dimensional). I have even thought a meeting was more important than a baseball game (but coaching this year purged that idea from my head).
I am by no means a perfect model when it comes to health and well-being as a clergyman but I do think my approach is healthier than a lot of my colleagues. I do not know why they have such a hard time walking away from church work, turning the church work button off, or saying good bye to the office for a few days. It baffles me. I have fun at work, I love my job. But I have more fun passing ball with my kids and enjoy my time away from work.
I think about the historical nature of this job: did Jonathan Edwards, Elijah Craig, Lyman Beecher, Cotton Mather, or James Manning have a vacation or a sabbatical? Don't get me wrong I love and cherish my vacation time and am counting down the days till my sabbatical in a couple of years. What prevented their burnout? I think I know: they were multi-dimensional people with many interests and hobbies. They seemed to marry well, liked and loved their spouses.
Yet there is another reason for the lack of holiday. Being a clergy person right now is not the easiest profession. Most of us are working like mad to make it in this business. We all have old buildings, aging memberships, budgetary problems, staffing shortages and what not. There is the temptation to buckle down and work harder. maybe working harder gets more people in the door and more funds in the offering but if I lose my soul and my family what good is that?