One thing that I’ve had to actively work on since coming into the ministry is investing in my own personal well-being. Looking after my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This requires discipline and an awareness of one’s own personal boundaries and needs.
By nature, I am a workaholic and a perfectionist. I like to be organised, ahead of schedule giving my very best in everything I do. This can easily lead to long working days and no days off to rest. I also love people and have a passion for pastoral care, mission, and community out-reach but this becomes unhealthy when it leaves me drained with no energy left for my own family.
It’s an old cliché but we often learn the most valuable lessons by our mistakes, and this is what happened to me. Last year I was placed in a situation that left me drained, uncomfortable and ready to ‘give-up’. But thankfully after wise counsel, space, and time to reflect I realised I could move forward from this incident stronger.
I have intentionally invested in a couple of things for my own growth and development. I now have a group of trusted elders that help keep me accountable to protecting my days off and maintaining a better work/life balance. I’ve tightened my own personal boundaries and have read a lot of great books to help me with this. I’ve realised, for me, walking refreshes my soul and rebalances my mind and I get out into the local woods and coastline at least 3-times a week.
I schedule ahead dates with friends and family, so in my diary I can look forward with joy to spending time with people that are important to me.
I’ve also taken up opportunities that I know are ‘life giving’. I benefit from monthly sessions with a spiritual director and a pastoral supervisor. I meet and stay connected to a group of local pastors/ministers for peer support and I keep in touch with people I trained with to share experiences, challenges and to get advice.
For the first time this year I went away on a 24-hr spiritual retreat and enjoyed swimming, spending time in creation and being ministered to. But my greatest learning to date is that refreshment comes when we adopt the unforced rhythms of grace seen in Jesus.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11: 28-30 The Message).
Jesus modelled a very different rhythm of life to what our society often pushes. John Mark Comer says: ‘Love, joy and peace are incompatible with hurry’. And ‘people today are just too busy to live emotionally healthy and spiritually rich and vibrant lives’. Jesus speaks of a pattern of life, of discipleship, that is indeed a ‘Yoke’. It is a path of service, involving commitment and discipline. The Yoke of Jesus is for the rhythm and routine of Christian living, that we may follow without fear or burden.
So, this year I’ve taken up Jesus’ invitation ‘to come’, not in a half-baked way, but in a committed life-changing way because I know that in the long-run this will lead to healing, well-being, and life.
Rev Lynsey Brennan
‘Your best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke: Rhythms of Grace to De-stress and live Empowered’, Bill Gaultiere
‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world’, John Mark Comer