Monday, January 25, 2010

Going the Distance - Chapter 10 & 11

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Chapter 10 - Principles and strategies of self-care, and
Chapter 11 - Where the rubber hits the road - a maintenance plan

Now, Brain gets down to the planning stages of self-care.

In Chapter 10, he looks both at the example of Jesus and other clergy in thinking through some elements of self-care. These include:
  • taking a day of rest
  • partnering with others in ministry - sharing both the joys and the burdens
  • being realistic about people - some will reject the message of the gospel
  • rejoicing that your names are written in heaven - comparison with others is neither helpful nor necessary
  • remembering it is God's work - he is in control
  • taking time for study and reflection
  • taking time for prayer
  • having hobbies and other interests
  • taking time with wife and family
  • doing physical exercise
  • taking regular holidays
  • managing careful use of the diary

Then in chapter 11, he puts forward some ideas to actually put a maintenance plan in place:
  1. Plan to work. That is what a pastor does, he works. Plan how you work, when you work and what you are working on.
  2. Plan to plan. Take time to plan all that you do. Plan the year's sermon topics in advance, plan the month's meetings, plan the week's times of preparation and pastoring, etc. Time spent in planning, both for the short-term (the day) and the longer term (the year/s) will reap great benefits and save time, in the end.
  3. Plan to rest. Plan rest time into the year, month, week and day. Account for sleep and exercise. Allow time for family and spouse which they can trust will be uninterrupted.
  4. Plan to study. This will include personal study (to meet own spiritual needs), preparation study (for teaching and leadership responsibilities), and professional study (eg. conferences)
  5. Plan to be a spouse and parent. If needed, schedule time for these relationships.
  6. Plan to remain humble. Helpfully expressed as "don't whine, don't shine, don't recline" (p178)
  7. Plan to be accountable. With spouse and church leadership.
Brain then includes an actual sample maintenance contract to plan, including things to consider in each of these 7 areas.

I think these chapters are helpful at drawing together all of the threads that Brain has discussed up to this point. I suspect many pastors would benefit from planning more aspects of their work, study, rest, etc. I also suspect many pastor's wives would appreciate time given to planning these things, so that expectations are more often met by reality.

Some things to think about:
  1. Which of the principles and strategies of self-care from chapter 10 do you find easy to do? Which do you find harder? Which need your attention at the moment?
  2. In terms of the maintenance plan on chapter 11 - are you (or your husband) this organised? Are you willing to try to be?
  3. How much of the plan do you already do? Which areas do you neglect?

Next Monday: Chapter 12- words for local church members

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