Taking Care of Ourselves

5 comments Written on June 1st, 2012     
Filed under: Uncategorized
Today’s post is written by Matt Nightingale, Director of Worship Ministries at Redeemer Covenant Church in Tulsa, OK.

I’ve been thinking a lot about vacation lately. In just a few weeks, I’ll be traveling to Irvine, CA, where I’ll be commissioned at the Annual Meeting. My wife and I have decided to turn the trip into a two-week vacation for our family. We’ll visit close friends in the San Francisco Bay area, go to Disneyland and spend precious time with her parents and extended family in Southern California. We will eat at In-N-Out Burger. We will swim in the ocean. I can’t wait.

One of my best friends is starting a three-month sabbatical today. He has worked as a young adults/community outreach/preaching pastor for over a decade, and this is the first time he’s ever had a sabbatical. I texted him this morning, saying “It’s the first day of a well-deserved and much-needed sabbatical! Enjoy! Rest and refresh! Love your family well! Eat healthy and work out often! Read a lot and sleep a lot! And most of all, dive with abandon into the endless expanse of God’s ocean of love!”

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? (I have to admit, I was a little jealous as I typed it…)

I remember once, on a spiritual retreat in Colorado, being led in a lectio divina exercise. The passage I focused on was Matthew 11:28-30. I was profoundly moved as I heard the gentle words of Jesus reach across time and space and invade my heart: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Who doesn’t need to find that kind of rest?

A while back, in our Better Together Facebook group, we were talking about recovering. From Christmas. From Easter. From whatever challenges or difficult seasons of ministry we face. Discussion turned to health and how we as pastors and leaders take care of ourselves. How do we stay sharp? How do we stay healthy? We talked about food choices and exercise, about rest, about having people to share our joys and struggles with, about time with God, about family time…

So what about you? Are you a healthy leader? How do you stay healthy? How do you need to get healthy? 

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5 comments “Taking Care of Ourselves”

Great article, Matt – and congratulations on your commissioning!  I remember mine very well, 21 years ago… Anyhow, your words about health are vitally important for us as leaders. At our PSWC ministerium meetings in April, we were blessed to have Pete Scazzaro speak to us about this very thing, and how emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. He reminded us that we are like icebergs, with lots of unconscious “stuff” below the surface of our lives, including habits, patterns, influences, experiences etc. that affect how we respond to things in life, including our leadership. If we are emotionally unhealthy, this will affect the way we lead and, often, result in an emotionally unhealthy church. Pete’s book is a tremendous resource for gaining awareness on how to become an emotionally healthy leader leading an emotionally healthy church. He goes so far as to say that health is really a discipleship issue! Thanks for the reminder that all of us need to pursue good health in our pursuit of God. 

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Thanks for the recommendation, Dan. I’ll check out Pete Scazzaro. I think it’s worth noting, too, the relationship between emotional health, spiritual health and PHYSICAL health! I’m becoming more and more aware that if I want to be a healthy and whole person, I must take care of my body too. It’s not just a shell for the real me. It IS the real me!

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My wife and I take 2 weeks from my allotted vacation time and bank them into the next year. Then we head tO France for a 6 week period. It’s where i am now with only wifi on my iphOne, no tv, radio or Phone service. It’s like getting a whole new brain!

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A couple of years ago I took a graveyard job for 8 months. 8 months of being awake from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am. As much as I tried to read my Bible and hang out with Christian friends, it was almost inevitable that I was grumpy and impatient with everyone all the time. I noticed my spiritual walk declining even though I was trying to prevent it from happening. There is nothing like having a good balance of sleep, healthy diet, and personal time with God to be refreshed and ready to face the challenges of everyday. Let’s just say I won’t be doing more graveyard jobs anytime soon!

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I’m discovering that there’s no such thing as a “slow week” in ministry, at least, not here. I think it behooves us to pace ourselves as a result; while there may be seasons like easter or christmas that are full, we have to be intentional to make other seasons LESS full, because it won’t happen on its own. We’re about working with people, which means there will ALWAYS be a huge demand on our time. Best to carve it out ahead of time …

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