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A good day off

First up, congrats to my mate Dan on his new baby boy; Bede. This photo is of the new arrival with my gorgeous god-daughter Hannah.

Secondly, some love thrown Gareth's way, after a very nice post he wrote. To beat his wife in the first of the series of "people he likes" may well have earned him some time in the dog kennel, but means a lot! If I may return the kiss to the nether regions; Gareth is a real legend of a guy who has chosen to work in the offices of the church, which means he can run his business there, but also that he gets called on for all sorts of IT support, and subtly (or not so as the case may be) influences the flavour of all that happens in the office and church. If only we had more business people thinking about doing the same thing, the support and resource that people could offer be simply being around would be incredible. And I love the new series. In a country that loves tearing people down (and my gosh have I being on the receiving end of that in my 25 years) it is awesome to see this new series of posts on his blog build people up.

Anyway, down to business; how do we have recharging, refreshing days off?

The thing that munts you up in ministry is that you actually do very little physical work, you spend your days engaging with people in which you want to give your full attention, there is the stress of sermons to write, youth programs to nail down, more pastoral coffees with kids just getting munted in their lives (so many you have to say no to some of them which kills you), staff meetings, camps to plan, brochures to write, parents to communicate to, emails to countless people in networks to keep the wheels turning, newsletters, reports, worship planning and practises, a meeting for nearly every event that happens, strategy retreats and days, youth leadership training and on top of this, most actual youth ministry happens in the evenings after these long days. Its very easy wind up just cranking it a little too much. Add to this the necessity to be spiritually developing, and trying to connect with Jesus in a meaningful way as often as you can. And then that the ol enemy isn't entirely happy with your little efforts to build the kingdom and you have quite the recipe for some weirdness.

My experience is that I would come home just exhausted, my brain fried from a day of intensity, and all I would want to do is jump in my cave, turn on the TV, and zone out before jumping into bed. But the problem is that because you have done jack tweety all day physically, your body is not tired even though your brain is full of stuff, and so you normally lie in bed wanting to sleep but not being able to because you have all this stuff running around in your head and wake up nailed...
So when it came to days off, the temptation would be to catch up on some emails and write some talks, or to blob and watch some dvds, again just a lame way to try and recharge before another week, and even then I had to fight a sense of guilt for not doing too much (especially as my pay check came from people that donated to the church).

A revelation came early last year when I worked as a builders labourer for about four months. From full time ministry to the building site full of rough chippies and sub-contractors and conversations about cars and rugby and killing animals....
I would wake up, work my lil guts out for 8.5 hours, come home physically shattered, eat a big feed and then crash out exhausted, sleeping like a baby. It was the most refreshing four months I could hope for and it scared my how much my lifestyle before that was really pretty unhealthy. Doesn't sound like a sabbatical, but it certainly felt like one.

And so as I continue a slightly different line of full time ministry type stuff (what a dumb way to express it, aren't we all?) I'm trying to make the most of my days off to recharge and refresh rather than just blob. And I am trying to stay physically healthy on my days charging around the place. I'm trying to soak up life and stop to reflect, to not feel guilty about doing little that is productive.
What does this look like? Well it used to be a long walk on the beach, but its now morphed into a run as often as I can (which will be hilarious for anyone reading this who actually knows me... that will not compute at all!). Of course, the ultimate chill out refresh activity is going for a surf, and as we are now living at the beach the wave count has seriously increased. We have biffed out the TV, and it is all very old school with lots of reading books (very CS Lewis of me, I know), and im trying to not feel guilty about the day off even though I now live off support not my church salary. I was fascinated to read Stu's post on his retreat day a while back... again some interesting thoughts, and with the amount of church workers wigging out at "burning out" it is probably a good conversation to crank out.
The truth is that I still suck at unwinding, and that its taken me this long to begin to get a handle on this. It certainly wasn't something taught at bible college!

Not a lot of answers I know, but be interested if you have any more ideas or stories.

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“A good day off”

  1. Blogger Gareth Bezett Says:

    Don't tell anyone, but I love church working bees. To take a break from driving a computer, doing tax returns and having meetings and actually get a sweat up is great. Not that it takes much for me to get a sweat up.

  2. Anonymous Naomi Says:

    The only idea I have is a body transplant. Not sure if they do those yet but I'm hanging out for a medical breakthrough so I can get me one. I'm so exhausted I can't stop throwing up and the world is floating by me like a cloudy soup.

  3. Anonymous Ben Says:

    Sorry to hear that things are so rough at the moment Naomi - and great post and subject Sam. I find it massively hard to stop and underwind and I wonder what's beneath it all sometimes. I guess I often feel quite driven and I can't tell if that's a good thing (motivated by a passionate desire to live for God and powered by His Spirit) or a bad thing that comes from some sense of having to "pay God back" for the awesome blessing that he brings to my life which is powered by my own stength and the need to feel like I'm "doing stuff" all the time.

    Kinda like Grace is a free gift for a debt I could never repay.....but I'm going to give it a darn good go....and in the process perhaps miss out on the idea of life in all its fullness that Christ died to bring.

    kinda ironic that.

    One of things that REALLY helps though is my little boy Jakob. Spending time with him seems like the most unproductive time ever while at the same time seeming to be the most important thing in the world. I'm sure God feels the same about spending time with His children and I'm constantly challenged by the story of Mary and Matha in Luke 10:38-42

    So there you go Sam. the secret is have kids and don't sell them to go to a Rage against the Machine concert. I almost got to see them back when Evil Empire was about to come out for $30, but the pulled out 2 days before the event becuase they were still putting finishing touches on the album. Gutted.

    Bless you bro. Enjoy your rest and exercise.

  4. Blogger Debs Says:

    That's a good point Ben about spending time with your kids. I am guilty of putting my daughter 3rd 4th 5th etc because im 'doing stuff for God' first, and meanwhile, a little girl waits....and that little girl is mine!

    I feel like im 'in full time ministry' except i dont have a church office and dont get paid. I feel like I am...ummm...cant think of the right word...not a pastor...but maybe, not sure, anyway, im that first and full time, and on the side I am a full time student and mother. No wonder I (we) often run on empty.

  5. Blogger Sam Says:

    Just talking to Chris Darnell, and the whole "turn off the phone" and ignore emails is a hard but such a good way to disengage.