I’m a big fan of self-care. From exercise to healthy eating and sleep patterns, these are a daily priority. I’m keenly aware of when my body and mind are telling me that I’m pushing myself too hard, which I do on a regular basis. I’m also aware that I have a tendency to work too much. I may achieve all my primary goals of exercise, healthy eating, and sleep, but I’ll then work 10-to-12-hour days. What helps balance my work and personal is my strong desire to spend time with my family and friends.
You may have seen some articles in the news about how clergy are leaving the profession at historically high numbers. The last two years of high-stress pandemic ministry has only increased the bump of clergy seeking early retirement or heading out to other careers. The numbers are higher for those under 45 years old.
There are a lot of theories on why this is happening, but I’m confident that at least part of the reason is due to a lack of self-care resulting in burnout. I’ve been in ministry all my life as a preacher’s kid and I’m a boundaries trainer* for religious professionals, so my confidence is high due to a lot of inside experience. When clergy doesn’t take care of themselves, it leads to burnout, and for some, it may lead to misconduct.
Each week, I strive to take my day off (Friday), which primarily means staying away from emails and my computer. I also take my vacations and study leave, which means time away from all of you for chunks of time. I deeply appreciate the staff and volunteers who fill in for me so I can take this precious time to refill my fuel tank.
As I get older, I strive even harder to balance my work and personal life, and wonder how each of you is doing with important acts of self-care. If you’re retired, self-care is still important, because I know so many of you are dedicated volunteers. For those of you with children at home, self-care can seem like a major act of indulgence, yet a depleted fuel tank means not being able to be fully present with those we love so deeply.
One of the reasons why I have a tendency to work too much is that I love my work. Yet even passion for beloved family or work, can deplete our bodies and minds.
I hope you’re engaging in self-care so you can be fully present for what you love. I’ll be on vacation from April 8 to 15, as I travel to Ireland with my beloved husband, Mark, and granddaughter, Brid.
With abiding love, Rev. Kate
*This training is a preventative measure to identify healthy personal and professional boundaries in this professional field that is filled with murky relationships between church members and their minister.