Stress and Mental Health
The North Carolina Council of Churches publishes Acts of Faith, a series of lectionary-based worship aids focusing on themes of social justice in North Carolina. The guide for September 19 (Proper 20) is titled “A Balm in Gilead”: Mental Health Care and The Church.
Note: This is the tenth post in a 10-part series, drawn from Connecting the Mind, Body and Spirit: Reflections on Health, produced by the Clergy Health Initiative and distributed at the 2010 United Methodist Annual Conferences in North Carolina. Each reflection is tied to the lectionary.
September 5, 2010
Jeremiah 18:1-11, Psalm 139 • Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.
Last week, Times reporter Paul Vitello published a front-page article, Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work. In it, he highlights the effects that stress and round-the-clock job responsibilities can have on clergy. Without support, some burn out and leave the church, but many others struggle to maintain balance, seemingly alone. The challenge then for the church, and for congregations everywhere is to find ways to alleviate the stress.
Recently I went online to rent a beach house for a week in August. The place I prefer to go is one I’ve visited many times over a span of more than twenty years. What struck me as I checked realtor websites for rental options this year were the selling points listed for the various properties. Location, of course, is always paramount, beach-front still at a premium.
Last week, I and several colleagues from the Clergy Health Initiative attended the United Methodist Annual Conferences in Greenville and Lake Junaluska, N.C. Our primary purpose in going was to share information about the Clergy Health Initiative – our research findings and future plans for introducing a suite of interventions to improve the health of pastors statewide.
Many of you have already seen it, but in case you haven’t: the current issue of Circuit Rider (May/June/July 2010) features three articles on Clergy Health.
Melissa Rudolph writes on the physical health challenges of United Methodist clergy, and gives an overview of the efforts of general boards and different Annual Conferences to meet the challenge.
Have you ever wished you could get away from it all?
Perhaps it has been one of those noisy, difficult days when everything has consumed more energy than it ought, when people have been uncooperative and dilemmas resistant to resolution. Where would your getaway place be? Some would name the beach or the mountains, others an art gallery or quiet restaurant. Yours?
Faith & Leadership had an article last week by the Rev. Nelson Granade on the pastor as congregational concierge. It's a wonderful reflection, notable in its insight that it takes both the pastor and the congregation to create the sometimes unrealistic expectations of 24/7 availability that leave clergy stressed, exhausted, and resentful, and their congregants co-dependent.
Wow! There are plenty of people devising software and gadgets to help other people organize their time. This is a topic that could fill many posts – there are whole blogs devoted to the subject – but below are some suggestions that I’ve found useful (and a few I plan to try).
Prioritize. "Do-lists" only work if they really help you organize, as opposed to totally overwhelming you with how much you have to accomplish. I found a simple tool for helping prioritize tasks on Slideshare that involves assigning tasks to a spot on a four-box grid. The point is to focus on fewer, high-impact tasks, and only tackle one task at a time.