...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

Friday, August 22, 2008

HALT for Clergy

One of my colleagues shared a learning from the 12-Step community. It is a reminder to stop and reassess situations and make better decisions. It requires us to be aware of self-needs so that we don't act out of our worst selves.

HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. When I am too hungry, angry, lonely, tired, I should hold off making decisions and taking actions while caring for the need that presents itself.

We all have our limits. The clergy and church professional trap is that we should be like Jesus and empty ourselves regardless of cost. That idea comes from a poor reading of Philippians 2:7: "He emptied himself and became a slave when he became one of us." (CEV) What Jesus was emptying himself of was his divinity, his God-ness, in order to become one of us, to take on a physical body.

A more helpful reading might suggest that the flow of our life together may be one that takes us beyond just self-concern in mind and spirit and action. We need emptying of ego. We need deliverance from our ourselves. The verses that proceed the hymn (Philippians 2: 1-5) seem to bear this out.

The choice is often between playing the role of superman/superwoman OR ordinary human being, albeit filled with the Spirit and fully alive in Jesus. The super-clergyperson does not HALT; the one who is growing in awareness of themselves sees the wisdom of doing so.

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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

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