My feelings got hurt again. No one did it intentionally. A helpful comment, question, or thought has the tendency to send me into depression. It was a simple question about why our office is closed on Fridays. No big deal! But it sent me into a tail spin.
As pastors, we used to stagger our days off. When extra meetings needed scheduled I often had to put them on Monday nights, my day off. I was regularly having to rearrange my schedule to get in an “essential” meeting. After awhile, I started to get discouraged. My desire to help others, and do what worked best for them, meant sacrificing a day off and time with my family.
A friend made the suggestion to have our entire staff take the same day off. I was shocked when he told me their entire staff takes Friday off. For a church of fifteen hundred people in a large community, this seemed revolutionary.
So we started doing it! I love it. Fridays have become a day of rest, retreat, and refreshment.
So what am I (are we) to do? How should I (we) respond to the never-ending requests and needs of ministry? And it’s not just about this one comment. It’s about all of the comments and concerns that come our way.
Talk about it!
One of the best things we can do is talk about it with the right people at the right time. I need to learn to hold my tongue and not respond in the moment. Too often, my first response is defensiveness. Get away from the need to respond right away. Get some time to pray and think, and then respond appropriately to the right people in the right way.
Involve Others in the Conversation
Don’t just talk about it. Let others talk to you. We often get stuck in our own mind. You might call it tunnel vision. It’s hard to see anything other than our own perspective. As hard as comments and concerns might be, they may be exactly what we need to hear.
Make an Informed Decision
If an adjustment needs to be made, then make it, but only after getting all of the information on the table. The goal should be for everyone to win or at least as much as is possible.
Be Selfish in an Unselfish Way
It’s impossible to meet every need and desire. There are times when it’s important to say, “I can’t do it all. I can’t be present seven days a week. I can’t be at every meeting. I have to take care of myself and my family.” It’s not just selfish. It’s a necessary part of serving God. Like Jesus, all of us need to pull away from the crowds for rest, prayer, and time with friends and family.
If need be, write down your own thoughts and feelings. That’s what I’m doing right now. Thanks for reading and listening! Feel free to respond with your own ideas.