But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds were gathering to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. Meanwhile, he would slip away to deserted places and pray. – Luke 5:15-16 (NRSV)
I speak to Pastors often about self-care, especially during the summer months. The demand placed upon Pastors in caring for God’s church and specialized ministries often results in stress, physical and mental health changes. For all these reasons and more, most of us have already come to the realization that self-care is not selfish, especially in Church communities. I believe self-care is critical to success in every aspect of our faith journey and professional lives as Ministers of Word and Sacrament. Jesus as the chief Minister of Word and Sacrament was in great demand, particularly as he carried out his work of a Saving Ministry to a broken world. The news of Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and miracle-working had gone viral, yet Jesus was good about “slipping away” indicating that Jesus withdrew even as the crowds were gathering. Jesus was not waiting until he had fulfilled all their demands to be healed before withdrawing peacefully. We must constantly remind ourselves that the mental health of Church leaders can have ripple effects as we strive to be faithful to God’s Calling and our Declaration Vows. Stress is Contagious. Stress becomes Burnout. Burnout leads to higher rates of turnover among our Pastors, Classes and Consistories as our churches still recovers from a pandemic…
In the coming summer weeks, your RSNY synod hopes you will find time to take time for yourself as Ministers. Just a few minutes of self-care a day can have a monumental impact on your pastoral role as leaders as you proclaim the Gospel message of a loving and caring God during the summer months.
Our Reformed doctrine states that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, yet our Lord never attempted to be the Superhero with nonstop abilities to teach and heal those without a sabbath rest. The fully human part of Jesus modeled self-care. I have learned as the Executive Minister, that if I want to be a non-anxious leader, I need to follow Jesus’ example. Thank God for Spiritual Retreats and spiritual leaders & Directors who remind us to “Listen to the Heart.”
Have a Blessed Summer! You deserve it!
Rev. Dr. Micheal Edwards, Executive Minister