I remember a friend of mine who was once a very good minister. One of the best I've ever known, who loved his people and responded quickly to their crises, knew how to run the business of a church, and had fresh ideas.
If I had problems, I went to him for advice, like everyone else did.
But things would get to him. He once told me that people had been in and out of his office all day—some in crisis, some throwing fits, and some having anxiety fests. The pace became so frantic that by the end of the day, he literally got out of his chair and hid under his desk for just a few minutes of peace.
Since that time, I have often felt like doing that myself.
When he was at the top of his game, just when his church was about to take off into the next gear, he quit. There was no scandal, no awful personal problem. He had just had enough, and he walked away and took a fundraising job.
I feel that “enough” line coming. It’s coming when I can see that our church could hit a new level of success, even as I hit a new wall of resistance. It’s coming even though at my age, when I should be at the top of my game, I want to run away and hide. I’ve watched other ministers get to this point and I swore I wouldn’t be this way, but here I am.
I think the only way I can stay is to restructure my life. People whom I trust, people who have good judgment, people who don’t necessarily care about my church, all say that I have to learn to take time off and to relax while I’m off.
Even my massage therapist tells me to learn to relax. “You really don’t do that well,” she whispered to me once. She’s right. I often have panic attacks just as I’m starting to relax on the table. I go from relaxed to all my muscles locking up while I hyperventilate. She coaches my breathing to get me back to a state of calm. BTW, I think I’m in love with her.
I’m kidding. Really.
For the first time in my life, I have some people who are looking out me. People on the leadership committee, especially the chair, fussed at me yet again about not taking enough time off. They don’t even listen to my pompous diatribes about how indispensable I am. I love them so much for caring for me—I really haven’t had that before, and it’s wonderful.
But it has brought to the surface a lot of turbulence, some of it dating back a lot of years. Old wounds, failures, frustrations. And fatigue. God I feel so tired. I can’t remember what it felt like to be rested. And I find myself wondering how I will go on like this.
And I do want to go on. I love this community and I would like to be able to stay here a long time, the rest of my career, taking care of these people.
But how do I find that longevity?