The clergy of the Oklahoma Conference gathered together yesterday for a Meeting of the Orders. We come together a couple of times a year for fellowship, worship, and learning. Sometimes these meetings occur when I am tired or really busy and they seem like inconveniences, but I am always encouraged by the day. Conversations with colleagues to inspire and encourage me. Worship and sermons that help me remember that it is God who calls me and God who gives me strength to carry out my calling. And of course, educational opportunities.
Yesterday we had Rev. “Dr” Karrie Oertli, Chaplain's Director at Integris Baptist Medical Center, speak to us on self care. As part of her presentation, she passed out forms for us to check off the symptoms of stress. It seems we clergy are a stressed bunch. I personally wasn't interested in finishing the form after looking at the first section, "physical symptoms;" however after glancing at the rest of the form I am pleased to report I do not smoke or exercise too much. At that point, I was certain it was more of a Meeting of the Dis-Orders (and at my table, the Dis-Orderly) rather than a Meeting of the Orders.
It did get me thinking though. Symptoms and signs of stress have become more of the norm than the unusual. And this isn't limited to the clergy or even to high stress occupations. In my ministry I am often counseling people who are stressed and in need of personal and time management, and I have a particular soap box about how we over schedule our kids. I am amazed that I am always met with the attitude that it is impossible to live any other way, and they are incredulous that I would even suggest anything different.
I do try to practice self care. I have regular times of devotion and meditation. I try to be protective of my sabbath time and time with family. I know simple things like when I am tired, I need rest, not another project. I keep reminding myself that life is a marathon and not a sprint. I am hopeful that as I model healthy behavior and sabbath keeping, the people in my congregation will begin to look at their lives and start protecting their sabbath time and family time as well. I hope they will teach their children.
I am truly worried about the effects of too much busyness on the children and youth of today, and what their future will look like if we do not teach them now the value of God time and self care. It seems the values we are teaching them is that they must perform and excel in order to be of worth and value, and sometimes it is okay for them just to be. But that's just my opinion.
I think it is important for us to ask the questions, so I will. How do you take care of yourself? How do you protect your sabbath time, family time and practice self care? I'd really be interested in hearing from you on this.