Monday, April 20, 2009


I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning but could hardly get out of bed - even when the clock said 8:15 a.m.  My body, mind, and spirit seem to be running on empty - exhausted, stretched to the limit.  I have spent the better part of the day in my pajamas, catching up on things that should have been done weeks ago and putting away things that have been in boxes for almost 10 months now.  In between all of this, I have been listening to music, lighting candles and reading a new book.  

I am exhausted.  I am feeling rather burned-out.  I have been stretched to the limit, and much of my exhaustion is because of decisions I have made - not decisions others have made for me.

I have accepted too many invitations.  I have said "yes" to the request to officiate at weddings for people I have never even met before, thinking that people might come to the church as a result and that the extra money can be really helpful.  I have said "yes" to participating in a book project containing different liturgies for Sunday morning, thinking that the list of coauthors was rather impressive and that the extra money would again be helpful.  I have said "yes" to being the last one to leave the church yesterday, making sure every door was locked, thinking that I could save the church a few extra dollars on security.  I have said "yes" to too many things instead of focusing on the main things.  

This issue is not new - my attention often seems to be consumed by things that are not that important, taking away from things that are really important.  While preaching on Sunday mornings is quite possibly the most important thing I do all week, there are times when writing the sermon gets pushed all the way back to Fridays.  While taking care of my body through eating and exercising is the thing that can help me enjoy life the most, I too often have gym reports that say I was only there once or twice a week in any given month.  While my attention needs to be focused on shepherding the flock whom I am called to serve, my energy can be zapped by committee meetings and administrative details that could easily be taken care of by other people.

I am discerning again today what are the main things in my life.  Cultivating my marriage is at the top of this list.  Taking better care of myself through diet and exercise is moving to a higher position.  Spending time with friends is important.  Making sure I have quiet time to study, pray and listen for God is important.

When it comes to the church, visiting our sick, our elderly and our members is important.  Making time to get to know newcomers in the church and following up on all visitors is important.  Carving out time for reading, sermon writing, and sermon practicing is important.   Planning good worship is important.  Making sure I am casting a vision for the congregation and also working with our leaders is important.  And yet, too often these things are pushed to the back burner.  

Why is it that we do not keep the main thing the main thing?  Why is it that we allow ourselves to be stretched so thin?

My focus is shifting again this week - to the main thing.  

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