I’m at the “count-down-how-many-sermons-I-preach-until-vacation” time of the year.
It’s also the “give a little cheer when I cross something off the bulletin” time of the year. And the “I can’t do that until I get back from vacation” time of the year. And the “I refuse to buy more groceries when we are leaving soon so I am having crackers and a granola bar for lunch,” time of the year.
It’s the “this will be our last session until fall” time of the year. It’s the “end of year dinner” time of the year. It’s the “we’ll put that on the agenda for September” time of the year. It’s the buying teacher gifts and trying to schedule summer birthday parties before school ends and dragging kids out of bed in the mornings and “how many days left of school?” and booking guest preachers and advertising summer camps and debriefing a year of ministry and final swim tests and remembering to put on sunscreen in the mornings time of year.
And it’s also the time of year when I feel so tired.
Perhaps, Pastor, you are feeling tired too. It has been a hard or wonderful or profoundly normal ministry year. There have been the normal ebbs and flows on the calendar. The series preached. The visits made. The meetings had. The crises averted, confronted, avoided.
And now you are sitting in your office and your eyes are blurring a bit as you try to write a sermon, or you are finding yourself sighing when a certain name appears in your email or you are saying things like: “There better not be anyone die this week.”
I have come to realize these feelings are to be expected this time of year. But what is funny is that every year I seem to forget this, and I find myself thinking the same things: “Is there something wrong with me? Am I totally burnt out on ministry? Do I need to get my iron checked?”
It’s funny that even though every June is the same, it still takes me a few weeks to remember: There is nothing wrong with me. I am not sick. I am not failing at my ministry. My heart is not hard. My iron is not low…I am just tired.
It has taken me fourteen years in this role to learn what I need to remember when the June exhaustion hits.
This is Normal
Growing weary is not a bad sign. It is a very normal sign of living a normal life, and we all go through it. There are seasons where this feeling is natural, and this one is one of those for me.
Listen to It
This very normal feeling is something to heed. It reminds me that I am not invincible, that I need God, that I need to rest. I can’t run at full speed forever. Everyone needs time to fill the gas tank. This feeling is a reminder: “Pull over.”
It’s time to take a breather. I don’t need to figure everything out right now. I can’t even rationally think about the fall; I can’t effectively process the last year; I can’t fix everything that needs to be fixed before I go on vacation next week. I need to push the pause button and things will feel different after some rest.
And, finally, and most importantly:
Calm Right Down
I don’t know about you, but when I get tired, all the big emotions flood over my whole life. I find myself irrationally questioning my call, my job, my purpose. I want to quit everything. I want to say “There is no way I am doing that next year!”
But I need to calm right down, and remember that those feelings are not to be trusted. Tired Leanne’s feelings LIE.
After some rest, I remember, I may feel differently. After some rest, I may have a new perspective. After a pause, I almost always feel ready to hit “play” again.
That’s why I have learned to monitor my responses this time of year. When someone asks me “Are you going to do this next year?” and all of me wants to respond by saying: “No! I cannot possibly do another thing ever!,” I have learned to say instead: “Let me get back to you after my vacation.”
I have learned to remind myself: I’m not crazy. It’s just June. And June doesn’t last forever. As the rhythms of life ebb for a little while, as I gratefully receive God’s gift of rest, as I pause and as I listen, Tired Pastor will fade away, as she does every summer. Renewed, Rested, and Ready Pastor will return.
Even better news? Rest and Pause works great for all the tired versions of you, too.
In the meantime – two lunches and one sermon to go!
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5 commentsAdd Yours
“There better not be anyone dues this week! “. This is my favorite! People WILL die at such inconsiderate times. Enjoy your well deserved rest:)
Most of the pastors who read this also said that was their favourite part! lol. #pastorhumor
If you re-read your post now and look back, would you say you have noticed any other lessons about rest since then?
I would! A big one for me, and our whole staff, was to more intentionally evaluate the plans we made as a church. It wasn’t the first year I got to June and was exhausted. Why was that? We are more intentional now not to overbook ourselves and our programming. I am someone who loves it when things are go-go-go…but that is hard to maintain! Thanks for asking! It was good to reflect on this!
I get it. Right now I’m working as a correctional chaplain and for us, things haven’t slowed down during Covid. It’s just very different. We have lost our 130 or so volunteers who generally did the services. Now my part-time chaplain and I are covering these (which makes 14 per week). It’s not like I have to prepare new sermons as we are using some fantastic video resources but we have to be on the ball for fourteen gatherings with people who have very broken stories which God is healing in a variety of ways. I can’t cut things out right now but we did renegotiate when things were done and how. I look forward to the day things change but in a way I don’t. Right now I get to be involved in the fun stuff of ministry. The “I see God moving” parts instead of the administrative duties I had more of before. I’ve already tried talking to one group leader and he’s not really willing to change what was to adapt to a new norm. When you do go back to “normal” what will you do with the push back?