...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welcome: Is Blogging a Spiritual Discipline?

If you are someone I have recently met at the Perkins Mentor Training or General Conference, welcome to this blog! In it, I try to address concerns which I face as a 50+ yr. clergy person marking 25 years under appointment in the UMC! Feel free to reply with your comments or suggestions!

And the question comes out of my own pursuit of a spiritual practice. Blogging is writing and so it can be form of spiritual discipline. A spiritual director seems to agree and encourages likewise.

As you are probably aware, the UMC wants (is desperate?) to recruit younger (under 35+) clergy for its aging leadership. Many judicatories are starting special "spotted owl" settings where these folks can meet to experience more community and support. When it comes to clergy over 35, it seems if you have survived that long, you have been thoroughly institutionalized in a sense, and that in itself can take a toll on spirituality, not to mention mind and body health. So can life!

To serve and to give from the full cup is only healthy. To want this is a yearning that I believe is given to us by the One Spirit who called and gifted us. There are many ways to pursue this- but it comes down to a change in self rather than a change in the church at large. Or anything outside of the self.

When I was five years out of Duke Divinity and in my second staff position, the pastoral counselor (who happened to be a Presbyterian clergy), compared the clergy ladder to an "iceberg"- very difficult to ascend with lots of slipping and sometimes sliding down. I think he was pretty accurate on many levels, as well as the spiritual level. The official line from the institution is all about effectiveness while being spiritual. For the benefit of all concerned, I guess. "Clergy need both (fruitfulness and spirituality) in order to be successful," words spoken by a seminary leader just last year (L. Weems). But the motivation for your own health, self- care, and wholeness, has to come from you for you are the one who will reap the most immediate consequences.

A guided retreat with a spiritual director is a good start. There you will have a chance to reflect on where you are, where you need to be, and how you can begin a new spiritual practice to foster a deeper experience of God's love wherever you are.

Peace!

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

Making Good Decisions