"One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." - Bertrand Russell
This summer I was able to take a six week sabbatical - a time of purposeful rest and recovery. My primary goal was to reconnect with myself, specifically my identity apart from being a pastor. Don't get me wrong, being a pastor is great but it is also very easy move from "pastor" to "performer" and to lose your soul in the process.
According to Richard Rohr there are three factors in our culture which are at war with our soul. These things apply, I think, to everyone. But they are especially true for pastors and leaders.
1. Narcissism: excessive self-preoccupation
2. Pragmatism: excessive focus on work, achievement, and practical concerns of life
3. Restlessness: excessive greed for more
Narcissism accounts for our heartaches. The heart was designed for relationship. Deep connection with God and our fellow human beings. Ironically the only way to be inwardly healthy is to focus outwardly on relationships of mutual love and trust. Unfortunately it is especially easy when we are in pain to put up walls of defensiveness and distance ourselves from others, essentially cutting ourselves off from the very healing we need. During this time away I realized that I need to get out of my own head. I need to stop being so centered on my own pain so that I can reach out to others. I need to learn to give my heart away so that it stops hurting so much.
Pragmatism accounts for our headaches. When we spend our days focused on building a successful career, finding the perfect house or on pastoring a successful church our souls begin to wither and die. I am learning I need to stop worrying so much about ministry effectiveness and focus instead on faithfulness. To let go of fear and learn to trust.
Restlessness accounts for our insomnia. When we feed our ego, we starve our soul. The constant thirst for more money, more success, more experiences, or more followers on social media always leaves us empty. We will only find rest in contentment. I am learning to live a life of gratitude for all of the simple joys I get to experience every single day. My health, family, community of friends and a world filled with beauty and wonder.
- Pastor Paul