December 4th, 2019

round tuit

Things I have learned

You will never get it all done. Never. Not all of it. As soon as you've checked off almost everything on your To Do list, there will be more things to put on it. This means that if you are wearing yourself out to get it all done before you can rest, you will never rest.

I spent over forty years in professional ministry. There are far too many "must do's" in a clergy schedule. Clergy are also, on the whole, a driven lot -- goal-oriented to the point of obsession. And (what is less acknowledged), many suffer from the need for affirmation from others; if they don't get affirmed -- or if they get criticized -- they suffer self-doubt, depression, and all the attendant ills thereunto appertaining. Which makes them work even harder, but with their bodies and souls in a state of strain which makes it even more tiring. Certain times of the year -- like the run-up to Christmas -- are unbelievably draining.

I won't belabor the point. If you're one of us, you know who you are.

The important point is to realize that you can only shift so many bales of stuff a day. We need to prioritize which bales are the most important to shift today. We need to organize big projects so they are accomplished in small chunks, too. But however much progress is made -- win, lose, or draw -- you can only shift so many bales a day. When you've done that, you need to quit.

Knock off. Do something fun. Take a nap. Spend time with your family. You don't have to feel guilty about it. You've shifted all the bales you could today. As long as you've knocked something off your To Do list, you've earned some time off. And every now and then, put a whole day off on that calendar. All the stuff will be there to do when you get back to it.

This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to learn. It's easier now, in retirement, but I still struggle with it. Accept the grace of God and take care of yourself.