I will be on vacation for a couple of weeks and will resume this blog in September.
How are you doing spiritually? A spiritual check-up is an important part of your journey and should be done at least once a year. Consider some of these possibilities:
1. Are you sensing a strong connection with God?
2. Do you have an active discipline of personal prayer?
3. Does Scripture still feed you?
4. Do you have a spiritual counselor?
5. Do you have a colleague with whom you can share spiritual concerns?
6. Have you taken a personal spiritual retreat lately?
7. Would a personal spiritual journal be of help to you?
8. Review your life looking for those moments when you felt God guiding you.
9. Do you have a discipline for engaging doubts in a manner that might make them redemptive?
10. Consider reading a book that focuses on spirituality at least once a year.
11. At least every couple of years write a personal statement of faith, Keep them and review them to see your own journey.
12. Take a hike with the express intention of noticing how different things you notice can speak to you spiritually.
13. Recall one of the moments in life when you felt spiritually healthy and notice what was helping you at that time.
Think about what you should be doing with respect to your financial health. Here are some suggestions to consider putting on your list.
1. Having an up-to-date will. For the sake of your family, stop making excuses and get this done now.
2. However small it is, develop a savings plan and take it off the top. Even a little bit, consistently done, will build up.
3. Arrange to have some paid up life insurance on you and your spouse for the sake of your children.
4. You and your spouse should jointly prepare at least a general budget that gives you a plan for how to use your income.
5. In that budget, have a line for fun.
6. Explore how some pre-tax dollar arrangements can benefit you without costing the church more money. It can, for example, be used to buy that life insurance.
7. If your children are first grade and above, it would be of value to show them your budget so that they understand what the parameters are.
8. See if you can set aside wedding and funeral honorariums for special family experiences.
9. Both you and your spouse should share the stories of how money was handled in your family of origin and identify some hot-button subjects from those experiences that will help each of you do a better job of discussing your own finances.
10. Determine as a family some main priorities of your charitable giving. If you establish a percentage that you are going to give away, it will help as you decide whether you can respond to the multiple requests that come your way.
Taking care of your family health will differ significantly depending on the nature of your family. I will suggest some things for families with children, but also there are couples without children, single people, etc. All of us have families in some form or other and an important part of our core healthiness is to pay attention to those central relationships.
1. Do you set aside regular time to commune with your spouse or the significant adult in your life? Date nights, shared meals, etc.
2. Do you set aside time to attend functions involving your children?
3. Do you occasionally take time to ask the members of your family how they are experiencing the stress of your ministry?
4. Do you plan regular opportunities to have fun with each other?
5. Do you have a spiritual discipline that you participate in with members of your family?
6. Do you provide permission for them to share their upset when ministry interferes with planned family times?
7. Do you plan individual time with each member of your family from time to time?
8. Do you take regular vacations together?
9. Do you communicate on a regular basis with members of your extended family?
10. Do you recognize and express thanks for those times when there is shared sacrifice because of demands of ministry?
11. Do you ask them to tell you how they see the positive and the challenges of your being a pastor?
12 Do you publicly recognize their special contributions to the congregation from time to time?
13. Do they recognize that, as members of the congregation, they have a right to ask for your attention?
14. Do you occasionally express individual thanks to a member of your family for their contribution to your life and ministry?
Again, you can add to the list. The important thing is that each member of your family recognize that they are loved and valued and that they don’t feel they are less important than your work with the congregation.
Yesterday we worked on a check list on your care of the physical self. Today I want to begin a list of caring for your emotional health. Ministry is stressful, with lots of ups and downs. It is important that you identify ways to keep yourself emotionally healthy in the midst of the demanding nature of your profession. Again, this is just a beginning of some ideas for you to consider. You should add others yourself.
1. Do you have a practice of bringing your emotional stresses to God in prayer?
2. Do you have one or two close friends with whom you can unload?
3. Have you considered a spiritual guide with whom you can meet on a regular basis?
4. Do you have a discipline of sharing protective time with your spouse or loved one?
5. Are you able to identify and name the emotions that you are feeling?
6. Are you alert to the signs that you are becoming overstressed?
7. Have you explored the art of writing about what is stressing you as a form of self-therapy?
8. Do you have a particular practice of relaxation that you can employ to relax you?
9. When you are feeling a strong emotion, can you use a parallel experience of that emotion in Scripture to process what you are experiencing?
10. Are you aware of a counselor to whom you can turn when you need that form of counseling?
11. Can you listen to criticism without taking it as a negative reflection on you as a person?
12. Do you occasionally go on retreat, both for an afternoon and for a week, to gain perspective on what you are experiencing?
13. Have you made use of monasteries as a source of spiritual refreshment?
14. Have you identified particular experiences that are refreshing? i.e. going to a movie, listening to music, reading a novel, etc.
15. Have you made use of humor as a way of interrupting a negative spiral of emotions?
16. Do you have a hobby that can interrupt your stress?
These are some possibilities. What other ways have you found to keep yourself emotionally healthy?