In his book Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Eugene Peterson says, “A sense of hurry in pastoral work disqualifies one for the work of conversation and prayer that develops relationships that meet personal needs. There are heavy demands put upon pastoral work, true; there is difficult work to be engaged in, yes. But the pastor must not be “busy.” Busyness is an illness of spirit, a rush from one thing to another because there is no ballast of vocational integrity and no confidence in the primacy of grace. In order for there to be conversation and prayer that do the pastoral work of meeting the intimacy needs among people, there must be a wide margin of quiet leisure (emphasis mine) that defies the functional, technological, dehumanizing definitions that are imposed upon people by others in the community…” (pg. 61)
Having interacted with hundreds of pastors in North America and around the world I have observed that most of those in the ministry are too busy. There is simply no time for the “wide margin of quiet leisure” that Peterson speaks of. Because of this many pastors feel tired, stressed, and spiritually dry.
If this is you then somehow you must find a way to create a wide margin of quiet leisure! You are the greatest resource your church has. And while you might not be the most important person in the church, you certainly are the most important person to the church. If you don’t take care of your emotional, spiritual, and physical needs and the needs of your family then the church will eventually suffer. This can be said of no other individual in your church.
The answer is not to add leisure to your already cramped calendar, but to subtract church responsibilities you’ve taken on and substitute in their place a wide margin of quiet leisure. You need to create time for prayer, meditation, reflection, playing, reading, and doing nothing. By doing less you can become more. I realize at first this might seem impossible, maybe even selfish…but it’s not. It is possible and necessary, and I can show you how.
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