Second, send your questions to Ask The Matriarch.
This week's question comes to us via Sleepless in the Suburbs:
I am in my very first senior pastor position. And, amazingly, this is the very first time that I have climbed up a rung in the career of my choice in quite some time. So, now I am somewhat sleepless trying to manage all the new responsibilities.
What day-to-day practices can you suggest to keep the transitional insanity to a minimum? What practical and spiritual disciplines have assisted you in such a transition?
Well, first of all—congratulations! Two of our matriarchs, Susan of Sense and Nonsense and Rev Abi know just the chaos of which you speak.
Susan writes: " You mention sleeplessness. The first thing you can put on your list is: SLEEP. That's right--get a nap, take a snooze, doze, rest! Think of Jesus catching z's in the boat in the midst of the storm. The disciples are in a panic, 'We're all gonna DIE!!' They say to Jesus, 'Do you not care?'
"During his ministry, Jesus gives us a good model for appropriate pastoral self care," she continues. "He's not constantly available to the disciples or to his followers. He takes time away for his own personal and spiritual needs. He spends time with friends."
Rev Abi is also transitioning to a bigger church with staff to manage, more responsibilities, more needs. She writes: "You have asked a very good question as to how to handle this transition in a practical way and then with spiritual disciplines. The number one thing I do is: PRAY. Pray all day long. Pray whenever I can. But most of all, I have found that if I come to the office early, it is quiet, and I can quieten my mind, my heart and my soul to focus on God, and then be able to listen. I'm not always able to do this consistently, but it really helps."
Go on Walkabout
"I also WALK," writes Rev Abi. "I walk through the sanctuary up and down the pews, maybe pausing where I feel led to, and pray for the members, the visitors, our worship team, the ones who missed, the ones with needs, the ones who work so hard in the church. I will stop at the altar for a long time. Sometimes I sit down or kneel, and pray, confess, and seek God's direction. I walk through the rooms and pray for all those who use those rooms, the Christian life Center, the teachers, leaders, the students."
For that matter, take it up as a deliberate exercise program. Rev Abi wears a pedometer and aims for 10,000 steps a day. "My walk is a walk with God, and my physical health helps my spiritual health," she says.
Keep It Holy
Don't forget your Sabbath. "Yes," writes Rev Abi, "It's a day away from work, the office, the church, the people. A day to be with God, rejoice, worship, rest, play. I heard that is was a good idea to plan a second day for doing those family household chores, etc and to keep that separate from the day of Sabbath."
Susan agrees: "I think it's also important to distinguish between a 'day off' and a true sabbath day. Your sabbath day is not the day you mow the lawn or do the laundry or pay the bills. It's a day of intentional rest and spiritual renewal."
Use the Buddy System
Rev Abi notes that she has trouble being disciplined and intentional, so she has a spiritual director to help her stay on the path, to keep her focused and diciplined in my Spiritual growth, nurture and love of God. "He has me using a specific book by Norman Shawchuck and Rueben Job: A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants."
Spiritual friends are also important, she adds. "Someone who will support me, listen to me pray with me. Someone to be accountable to."
Rev Abi recommends the following books:
- The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins
- Making a Good Move by Michael J. Coyner
- Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation by Lawrence W. Farris
Another book that many matriarchs recommend is David Allen's Getting Things Done. It's a good book on organization, task management and detail orientation. There are several blogs out there that focus on how to use the book in your work and life:
own website for "Getting Things Done" also.
The most important thing you can remember during all of this is that there is a system that will work for you, and all you have to do is discover it. That will take a little experimentation, a bit of practice, and a lot of patience, grace and time.
All our best!