Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Do I Keep Doing This?

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?


  1. If you believe your work and your mission are important, and if you do really care about those who depend on you, it seems your next challenge will be the oxygen lesson. You put the oxygen on yourself 1st!


    1. K, I'm sorry I missed this comment. Thanks for the thought--How can I disagree?

  2. i appreciate knowing this side of a preacher. it is hard to be the one giving and depended upon, and the line, feeling it coming must be hard. glad to get to know you a little more.

    1. Hi Shade, thanks for reading and sharing.

  3. Oh my goodness....I didn't write this post, but I bloomin' well could have!

    grace and peace to you....and me.

    1. Thanks Andrew. Indeed, grace and peace to both of us.

  4. Many years ago, I was a long distance runner. I raced the 2 mile... but many practice runs were 4 to 5 miles in length. We pushed hard all during the training and racing season. After all, we wanted to win.

    But then, I tried to learn pacing, rather than pushing.

    In pushing, your focus is on winning. Your limits must be stretched. Your opponents are unnamed, but they will show up and race against you.

    In pacing, your focus is on inner peace - you run at a speed that allows you a sense of peace, relaxation, and wonder. If you cannot speak with your running partner, then your pace is too fast... slow down until you can chat freely and easily with anyone that interrupts your training.

    In pacing, there is a willingness to have flexible limits - you may walk when going across the bridge, just so that you can look again, a bit closer this time, at the ship yard below.

    In pacing, there is no opponent. You are not broken. You are not in need of 'grace' to 'get back into the fight'. In pacing, you walk next to the Shepherd that keeps bringing you back to that quiet stream, you munch at the feast set before you, and you truly fear no evil, even though the valley is real.

    "From now on, let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus..." is the remark of Paul as he has settled into pacing. Paul the Apostle was not going to be pushed, any longer.

    Hugs. Hang in there.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

    1. Good words. Good thought. Thanks Caryn.