Dr. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, the research director for the Clergy Health Initiative, recently shared some data from our 2008 survey of North Carolina United Methodist pastors on how clergy bolster their own spiritual lives. The survey question asked:
Is there anything else you do to support your spiritual life in addition to prayer and reading religious literature (apart from your pastoral duties)? This can be something that others would immediately recognize as spiritual, or something that only you know is spiritual for you.
The answers were wide-ranging and wonderful. Many of you use music (listening, singing, playing an instrument) as a tool to connect with the spirit. Others use exercise. Some of you schedule regular times of retreat or meet with spiritual directors. Those who read for pleasure delve into poetry or prose, the content of which is not always of a religious nature. A few keep journals; a few more play golf. Twelve-step groups also serve as sources of spiritual support.
I was struck by the number of pastors who achieve renewal by volunteering in community ministries away from their home congregations. And I was delighted by the number of times respondents cited covenant peer groups, sermon preparation groups, and conversations with clergy friends as ways they connect with their spiritual lives. Communing with others seems critical to your well-being.
We’re eager to learn of unique suggestions you may have for other pastors seeking fresh access to space for the holy - feel free to comment with additions.
Yours in health,
Robin Swift, MPH
Health Programs Director
Clergy Health Initiative