The pandemic has caused havoc in the lives of our pastors and leaders. Many are suffering from, and that is leading to a great resignation among clergy. The recent SCOTUS decisions around gun laws and the huge loss of women’s rights have ratcheted up the tension in an already anxious church and social environment. There is now a greater need for pastors and leaders to adhere to time boundaries and take all their vacation and continuing education time.
I ran track in high school and college. Although I was a sprinter, my primary event was the 440-yard dash, or quarter mile. (This dates me since the sport of track now uses the metric system and my event would be referred to as 400 meters today!) Anyone who has ever run the quarter mile knows that it is a brutal race and that is an all-out sprint from start to finish. Well, at least that is what it is supposed be. During the last 100 yards is when the pain kicks in. The knees of the runner lose lift, the posture leans back, the arms just can’t reach higher than the waist. We call this “the monkey on your back”! And one had better not stop and sit down immediately after the race. If so, cramps form in the calves, thighs, and stomach. Even when exhausted, an easy job is required to allow the body to cool down.
The key to my success in the quarter mile race was pace. Most runners like to go out fast and then coast as their energy gets depleted and pain sets in. My strategy was to do a perfect split: the same speed for the first 220 yards as the second 220. This took enormous discipline and control. And this is how I have learned to work in my professional life.
I am looking forward to some vacation time in July. It is an opportunity to attend a family reunion, catch up on reading and grilling, outsmart the racoons and squirrels in our backyard, and just relax.
Good leaders maintain good boundaries on their time. This means a consistent day-offs and clean breaks from the work of ministry with vacations and continuing education.
When I get away, it is a break for me and a break for those who work with me! My staff needs to function in case I get hit by a bus (God forbid!). It is important for the church to be able to function without the pastor or head-of-staff. This is an opportunity to hear God speak a different message, and for people to learn what they are capable of and expand their limitations.
Let us model healthy boundaries for one another. Let’s pace ourselves so that we can run the entire race. May we encourage one another to rest, play, and rejuvenate through frequent breaks.
Rev. Craig M. Howard