By Beryl Jantzi
Establishing healthy practices can help clergy and lay leaders avoid burnout. David Gray who works in collaboration with Alban institute has developed practices that can help clergy and lay leaders maintain a healthy work-life balance. Below are 5 of his recommendations you may want to review and set in place as a way of establishing accountability in your leadership teams
- Pray daily. When you are frustrated with balance issues, pray. When you are upset at your work situation or boss, pray. When you are frustrated with your kids, pray. Prayer is a critical practice when it comes to work-life balance. It is the original, calming practice that Jesus taught and that connects us to God. Prayer calms, refocuses, and provides the spiritual strength we need to find balance in our days.
- Care for your body. God has given you one body for this life. Caring for it allows you to do your work and to care for others. Eating healthfully is important. Especially when we are traveling or working hard, we tend not to eat so well, but our diet contributes greatly to our health. Exercise has great rejuvenating effects. My daily exercise is critical to my well-being. When I am feeling stressed and out of balance, few things can rebalance me like exercise.
- Simplify your life. Jesus and his disciples lived simply. Read Mark 6:6-9. “Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.” How does that translate to how we go about our work and ministry?
- Come to terms with your relationship with money. Our desire to accumulate and spend can spur us to work extreme hours in order to make more money. We must develop a habit of budgeting our money and living within our means. We can easily get caught up in the culture of consumption to the point where we feel we must work as much as possible in order to afford the lifestyle we think we want.
- Go on retreats and vacations. Rest is important enough that we should also set aside significant periods of time dedicated to it. Our bodies, minds, and spirits need to lie fallow, like farmland, in order to be refreshed. Taking a week or two of vacation can help do that. However, 43 percent of Americans do not even take all their vacation days. Those are important opportunities for rest, and we should make the most of them.
“How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” If we add some healthy habits to each day of our lives, we will find that those practices and the disciplines that flow from them will bring us more balance. Everence offers a free downloadable curriculum entitled Stewards of Grace which addresses holistic practices regarding Time, Talent, Health, Money, Relationships and Creation Care.