Confessions of a Pastor
How are you doing? How is your spirit? Are you in right alignment with God? How are our relationships? How are your boundaries?
I have been out of alignment, pulled off track and I’m struggling. I’ll start with a confession. I’m a recovering perfectionist and a workaholic, addicted to busy-ness and it’s hurt the ones I love. And it hurts me. Sure, I get a lot done, more than others simply because I work 20-30 (and sometimes 60) hours more per week than most people. But that doesn’t mean it’s good. It's definitely not good. I don't recommend it.
Just because what I’m doing is ministry work doesn’t mean it’s healthy or right to spend all my time doing it.
There’s a need for balance and alignment. And when I get out of alignment with God, several things happen. More confessions: I get stressed. I get sick. I get overwhelmed. I swear (gasp! yes, I revert to who I was back in the day and a 4 letter word may slip from my mouth). I spin my wheels and am only able to put out fires instead of thinking proactively which results in working more because nothing is done effectively. I can’t think clearly because my mind is running a million miles a minute.
Does that ever happen to you?
I know that what keeps me sane, what keeps me healthy spiritually, mentally and physically, is staying in alignment with God. I know that when I get too busy to pray, to ready my Bible, to spend some quiet time each day, I am soon living in chaos and things are moving so fast that all I can do is run to try to keep up. It seems counterintuitive to stop, drop and pray. But that’s what I need to do.
So why does it take me so long to get back on track? Why do I struggle so much with being still?
During my quiet time this morning, I was thinking of how I struggle with time I spend ‘not working’. For 3 decades I have worked almost all the time, either studying or working/volunteering. Most of that time I have either had 2 or more jobs or worked at least 60-70 hours per week. It’s taken a toll on my relationships, with those closest to me feeling like my work/ministry is more important than they are. And it’s taken a toll on me physically.
For about the last 15 years, I hardly ever watched TV. In fact, for 4 years, we didn’t even have a TV set up for watching. It was only used for Rob to do photography. Recently, we have started watching TV at night as a way to ‘relax’. It’s the time I spend ‘not working’. But I struggle because it isn’t time that bears fruit. Nothing is accomplished by it. I’m not growing in my faith or growing as a person or growing Food for His Children, so what’s the purpose.
I’m a workaholic. I feel like it’s hereditary. Ask anyone who knows my 98-year-old energizer bunny grandma. She never stops. Is it simply something that’s engrained in some people? It’s certainly something that I have struggled with for my entire adult life.
As I wrote in my journal today, I found a verse I had written down months ago and it didn’t help me with my struggle.
Matthew 6:32b Your heavenly father already knows all your needs and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
That last part is what I’m struggling with. When I watch TV, I’m sitting still, but it certainly isn’t filling my soul or helping me to grow in my faith and I’m not really even sure that it’s rest. Yes, it gives me time off from work and I’m sitting next to my husband, but it’s not like we are connecting in any meaningful way staring at a screen.
I don’t feel at all like it’s making the Kingdom of God my primary concern. So, is it something I need to limit or stop altogether? Or just change the content? Is it spiritually unhealthy to watch shows that have nothing to do with faith?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as I work to recover from being a workaholic. Truly. I struggle with not feeling guilty about watching TV and yet I am drawn to it more and more. Is that addiction? Is that the enemy slowly getting a foothold into my spirit and taking over more and more as I watch things that I would not watch if I could actually see Jesus sitting next to me on the couch?
What do you do to fill your spirit? To be still?
One thing I have been trying is to have a Sabbath day. One day a week where I do not work. And I don't spend it in front of the TV. It might mean a nap, reading, doing a puzzle, spending time with family or friends, listening to worship music, taking a walk or just sitting still doing nothing. But it's not a day of scrolling through Facebook, or email or the latest news. It's just 'chillin' out' with no real goal except to slow down for one day of the week. And it includes time with God, some focused time, but also simply remembering Him throughout my day. Noticing him in the trees or the taste of a food or the sun as it sets. These things fill my soul.
At Food for His Children, we believe all poverty (spiritual, material, physical, relational) is rooted in one of 4 broken relationships: Your relationship with God, yourself, with others and with the rest of creation.
When I work too much, it impacts all 4 of these relationships. The result? My relationship with God suffers. My health issues become more prominent, I get sick more often and I gain weight. My relationships with family and friends suffer. I don’t take care of the blessings God has given me. I don't process things well which means everything takes longer to complete.
This is a constant battle I face. And I suspect I’m not alone.
These are some questions that can help get you back on track when you are stuck on the hamster wheel like I am.
1. What would it look like if you were in perfect alignment with God, self, others and the rest of creation?
2. What does my life look like now?
3. What would it take to get half way there?
4. What are others doing who seem to have proper alignment?
5. What is one thing I can do today to start working towards getting things in proper alignment?