According to Josh Lujan Loveless, senior editor of neue. magazine, just mention a vacation, sabbatical or even a weekend pastime you’ve had. “Pastors,” he says, “are desperate for someone to call a timeout…”
PastorBurnout.com substantiates the often-negative effects of a ministry job: higher levels of hypertension and obesity, and shorter life expectancy, than the average American. Clergy members also have high levels of divorce, depression, and moral failure.
Timeout! (There. We called one.)
What you need is ONE THING.
You know what you should be doing regarding diet and exercise. However, if you’re burned out, you’re probably ignoring most of it. Full-scale change may not be feasible for you right now, but if everything feels hopelessly overwhelming, it’s time to do something different, just one thing—unrelated to ministry—with your body. The body is the touch point between spiritual and earthly realms, so anything that happens there—good or bad—will affect the whole person. That makes it the perfect place to start addressing pastor burnout.
• Sign up to walk a 5k
• Join AA or Weight Watchers
• Walk your kids to school every day
• Spend one hour outdoors every day
You can even set a goal to pick something different—something unexpected—each day, like take a new route to work on Monday, take the stairs on Tuesday, take a nap on Wednesday, or skip down the sidewalk on Thursday. Solidify the power of this exercise by taking a picture of your one thing each day and creating a photo journal of your one thing journey.
The science behind the idea is that doing something new, especially if it’s challenging, boosts activity in new areas the brain, creating neural connections that result in different emotional responses. To make it work:
1. Choose your one thing
2. Involve other people to cheer you on or join you
3. Determine a deadline or time period, and the specific steps required to meet your goal
4. Examine obstacles to the goal and be armed against them before you run into them
5. Just do it, remembering that you’re now doing the opposite of insanity, according to Einstein
When to Start
The most powerful time for a one thing goal is when you’re at the end of your rope, when you least feel like it. Remember, however, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s better to start before the last match is extinguished in your psyche! Either way, as you accomplish your one thing goal, you’ll discover two things:
- Clarity about the issues that are weighing you down
- A sense of empowerment that will make you want to immediately set another one thing goal
On your mark, get set…Go!