...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, August 6, 2008

The Overfunctioning Minister: Live Well , Do Good

"Struggle is not a good strategy for the new world. Joy is the strategy," Donna Schaper writes in her book, Living Well While Doing Good. While I enjoyed reading this short volume by the UCC Clergywoman, I appreciate more the theme of how clergy can discover balance in their lives, personally, socially, spiritually, and professionally: "The success of the intervention depends on the inner quality of the person doing the intervention. In other words, if I am not well. I probably won't do good." (p.89).

Since most clergy I know still think they are going to save the world, or want to make a visible difference, Schaper's writing seems to be somewhat reactive and corrective: she is coming to terms with her own over functioning as social activist pastor. Building smaller fires, keeping a good light, using the Leave It Alone Committee as much as the Let's Do It Committee are all metaphors she uses to preach and teach simplicity and discern the best use of the gifts and time.

Her personal examples are excellent in teaching the concrete steps of simplifying life. I found the best chapters to be on simplifying: control (her weekly schedule is shared), conflict, size, and joy. One of the things I appreciate about the book is the fact that Schaper can talk about both gardening and global warming, "What is impractical is spring in winter, not banning cars." (p. 111). She can speak about the American cocoon as well as finding the courage to cross the threshold from vegging out in front of the TV room to the home and to the community.

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Welcome! I serve Chapelwood, a United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Clergy are frequently present for others, but no one can offer what we don't have.. That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the 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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