Yes, pastoral ministers should be selfish. While the Lenten season provides a space to abstain, fast, and give to others, it is also one of the busiest times for pastoral ministers. One in which self-care is often thrown out the window. For that reason, pastoral ministers should be selfish during Lent.
The past year and a half I was blessed with a ministerial sabbatical. I took time off from ministry so that I could focus on my doctoral work, but also to replenish my soul and find balance. I have to admit that in my previous ministry, I failed miserably at finding balance in my life. My ministry came first. I worked nonstop, everyday, night and day. Even during vacations I was checking e-mails and answering calls and texts from my staff. I stopped going to the gym, getting my daily exercise, and put on too much weight. Worst of all, I skipped meals and drank too much soda to get me through the day. And lets not forget the pan dulce and sweet treats available at so many of the events my office put together. I was burned out.
This lent, I decided to take a different approach and be a little selfish by focusing on self-care. While in previous years I have abstained from sugar and soda, this year was different. I’m exercising and eating healthy meals for a different purpose, to learn to be a better minister and human being. For years I ignored the quote that hangs on my refrigerator door by Rabbi Hillel.
“You have a solemn obligation to take care of yourself,
Because you never know when the World will need you.”
This Lenten season, I realized that as a pastoral minister I also need to learn to be a little more selfish so that I can better serve others today and tomorrow. In doing so, I discovered that I am happier person. I have more energy and my husband probably finds me a little more bearable since I no longer hit the “I need a caffeine fix grump.” And I’m getting more done. While I’m lucky to have the space and time to do this because I’m a full-time student, many pastoral ministers are struggling to find that balance. Plus, leading a healthy life can be expensive. Eating healthy and organic is more expensive than fast food; gym memberships are also an added cost. Let’s face it, most pastoral ministers do not get paid much and Hispanic Ministers are often volunteers. How then, can pastoral ministers practice self-care when there is a lack of resources and time?
Here are some ideas:
The first step is to just say no. Stop over-committing and set healthy boundaries.
Stop working all the time and take a nap!
Find time for prayer (prayer services that you lead or organize do not count). Go to Mass at a parish where no one knows you so that you can receive the Word and Eucharist without someone asking you to lector or solve a parish problem.
Go for a 5-10 minute walk. It’s amazing how much a little fresh air and vitamin D can help.
Skip the donuts after Mass. I know they’re yummy. Skip them anyway.
Pack a sandwich or go to Subway and don’t eat at your desk.
In these last few weeks of Lent, remember that as pastoral ministers we already sacrifice a lot. We give of ourselves on a daily basis. Take the time to be a little selfish so that during Holy Week and Easter, you have the energy and joy to serve others.
2014 © Patty Jiménez. All Rights Reserved.