BE SERIOUS ENOUGH TO LAUGH
While Dan Buttner, in his study of centenarians, doesn’t mention humor as a major factor in their longevity, I think it is a critical factor in healthy ministry. If you can’t laugh at yourself and some of the crazy situations you find in the ministry, you are putting yourself under far more stress than is healthy. Ministry is a serious business, but a good laugh can make space for God to do even better work through you and your church.
Judy Carter, one of my favorite comedians, who I was able to interview in my book God Laughs–Why Don’t You? suggests that a major stress reduction strategy is to learn how to turn your problems into punch lines.
PROBLEMS INTO PUNCH LINES
When someone comes up with that tired old doggerel that “it must be nice to only work one hour a week,” wouldn’t it be nice to respond with something like, “I only wish I could take the other sixty-nine hours off my taxes as a charitable donation.”
Or when someone thinks he’s being wise and intones, “What I want to know is when you clergy are going to understand that the church needs to be run like a business. You need to get your head out of the clouds.” Wouldn’t you like to respond. “Having read about the mess that a lot of corporations have created, I wonder if your recommendation would include a golden parachute if I mess up.”
A DIARY OF HUMOR
For lots of reasons, you may not feel free to come back with such responses directly. Though lots of times about an hour later I thought of what I would have liked to have said. I have two suggestions.
First, get yourself a notebook and copy down the whiny or mean spirited comments you sometime hear. Also list some of the unfair criticism that you at times absorb with a smile. Then, when you are alone, try to make the best rip-post you can think of. Believe me, you will get better the more you do it. I guarantee you that there will be occasions that it will lift your spirits to go back and read some of them.
THE MORE THE MERRIER
But here is the second suggestion. Find a colleague in the ministry that shares your desire to lighten the load with some humor. Covenant with them, it can be two or three colleagues, to once a month send your best retorts to each other. Shared humor is healing.
bit.ly/Godlaughs My book attempts to share several strategies about how to integrate humor into ministry. I take ministry seriously, which is why I needed to learn to laugh.