Monday, June 18, 2012

Through Burnout and Back: Revisiting Priorities

My recent trip to Arkansas was very beneficial for my healing process.

Sitting at the feet of my (almost) 93 year old grandfather helped a lot.  He gave plenty of advice even though he told me to take it with a grain of salt.  The connection was priceless even as I continue to process much of what he said.

Being 500 miles away from Cat Spring also helped give me a different perspective on things.  When you are sitting in the midst of everything happening, it's very, very easy to lose perspective, and unfortunately, I did just that.  Hopefully, being away gave me a little more of that.

One of the gifts of this perspective was to help me see where I was at fault in this process of burnout.  As I looked at the situation from afar, I realized several of my mistakes.

  • I lost the vision that drove me for the first several years in my congregation.
  • I took responsibility of things I should not have taken responsibility of.
  • I became too enmeshed in the emotional processes of stuff that was happening.
These are the things I think I can share at this point.  As time goes on, there might be a few more things I can put out there.

As I thought long and hard about these things and the role I will play in the future, I knew it was time to revisit my priorities as a pastor, husband, and father.  I knew it was time to begin thinking about what I needed to focus on in the future to stay healthy in all three aspects of life: spiritual, physical, and mental.

So far, these things seem to be where I am headed:

  • As a pastor, I feel deeply called to focus my attention on reaching out to the unchurched, dechurched, and those who do not believe.  My grandfather's question regarding what sermon I've preached to most further the Kingdom of God refocused me here.  I have a very good, wise friend who commented that I still have many years left in the ordained ministry to preach such a sermon; however as I think about the Church and its mission to reach out to the world and make disciples of all nations, I am convinced such sermons should not be preached once in a career.  I am convinced that such sermons should be preached all the time.  Conversations should be held within and outside the church building on a very regular basis engaging unbelievers.  The Spirit has led me toward this area and field and has been equipping me for just such a purpose.  I believe I must fulfill it and change my focus to accomplish this.
  • I also sense a deep sense of purpose to pass my faith down to my children.  At their baptisms, my wife and I promised to teach them the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments.  To place in their hands the Holy Scriptures and provide for their instruction in the Christian faith."  So far, we've got the Lord's Prayer down.  We've got a long way to go in regards to the other things, and we've got a very, very long way to go in teaching the Bible stories.  Sunday School programming hasn't been very easy to accomplish in my current congregation.  I've been spending a lot of time in adult study.  I may have to shift my focus to ensure my children have the faith passed down to them.
  • I have to discern the main responsibilities I am to take in my congregation.  There are several things outlined in my letter of call and in the congregation's constitution.  These things probably take up 75% of my time.  The other 25% must be used wisely, and I've got to make sure they are used in regards to my primary purpose as a pastor.  I'm not exactly sure how that will play out given I am situated out in the middle of the country, but I know it's what I need to do.
I am sure this is just the beginning.  This process of recovery will take a while, but getting these things prioritized will help greatly.


A Blog to Hope said...

I have a different perspective on the sermon you have preached to most further the Kingdom of God and I hope I can explain my theory properly. For me, you have already preached such a sermon. I may not belong to your church or hear you preach on a weekly basis but I do read your blogs and I can say that I have found peace and become closer to God through your words. You kindly sent me a sermon you preached to a family who lost a child. Your words help resurrect the embers of my faith.

If this is true for me it must also be true for at least one, some, or all your congregants.

Kevin Haug said...

Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is much appreciated, and you are correct in your assessment.