So, it's been one year. It's been one year this past weekend since I had to leave work due to shortness of breath. I went from my doctor to the hospital because everyone thought I was having a heart problem. I stayed overnight, went through EKGs and stress tests, only to find out it was a panic/anxiety attack. It's been one year and here's what I've learned.
I was trying to do too much, with too little help. Ministry is designed to be done in community with others carrying some of the burden. I was trying to do it all on my own, and was destroying myself in the process.
I've come to a conclusion concerning delegation that has helped me do it more; it's my job to work myself out of a job. Since I started being bi-vocational, that thought scared me. If I work myself out of a job, what would I do then. What I've found is that it frees me to do what only I can do for the growth and health of my ministry. If you're worried about losing your "job", maybe ministry shouldn't be your "job".
For the longest time I lived under the delusion that as a pastor (even part time) I had a responsibility to make myself available whenever people contacted me. I would put off what I was supposed to be doing in order to meet with people. Then after meeting, I would work even longer trying to get done what I needed to get done. This only added to the self-destructive habits I was already working under.
Let me clarify, I still do meet with people. I simply may not do it right away (unless it is an emergency / crisis situation), but I schedule it at a time that works for both parties.
Before what happened a year ago happened, I couldn't find a useful way to track the progress of tasks I wanted and needed to do. I tried several different things and gave up way too quickly. This led to months of running too hard for too long. Something had to change, February 2012 proved that.
Here is what I'm currently using to stay productive. I keep and use a some calendar (I know novel concept, right), as well as setting up "Reminders" (Macbook, iPad, iPhone synced) helps me get things done within a timely manner. Having someone look at these on a regular basis, helps keep me moving forward and helps when I'm stuck.
My schedule is flexible enough to allow for "divine interruptions" and I've gotten to place where I'm OK with not getting everything done when I thought I would (which has taken time).
Working two jobs, rest didn't seem feasible. I looked at it as this is the "season" I'm in, I'll rest later. Last year at this time it had been almost 2 years of that kind of thinking. Rest is vital for health, physical and mental. Without it ... you will end up in the hospital ... or maybe even worse.
When you are home, turn your phone off. Or at least put in the other room. 90% of the time, it can wait, the other 10% they will keep trying (even different methods) to get a hold of you.
Pastors, protect yourselves with these 4 steps. Elders check up on each other on a regular basis. Church members /goers check in your pastors as see if they are doing these things.
On a side note ... it's also been a year since I shaved my beard off (if you could call what I had at the time a "beard"). I got home from the hospital and took a shower in order to get what I referred to at the time as "hospital smell" off. I still smelled in on the on the beard, after several tries with different products, so the beard had to go.
It's also been a year since I started growing what has now been come to be know as the "Goat Pharaoh". A razor hasn't touched my chin for a year now. Here's the proof: