Over the past week, I have been reminded just how hectic and exhausting the season around Thanksgiving and Christmas can be for a pastor. This is a season of both thanksgiving and lament, and pastors are incredibly privileged to walk with individuals through it all. In my own experience, this is probably one of the most beautiful parts of ministry. I give thanks every time someone invites to me walk with them, grateful for their trust and grateful for the ways that I see God working in my relationship with each person.
This past week, though, I felt the burn out.
The day before Thanksgiving, I pulled up to my house with roughly an hour to decompress after a very intense 24 hours of pastoral care, clean up the house for family, take a shower, and rest. Needless to say, the decompression and rest didn’t happen the way it should have! At least both I and the house were clean though, right?
I rallied from Wednesday afternoon until Saturday afternoon, convinced that if I drank enough coffee and smiled through the yawns, I could make it. As I slowly slipped into the comfort of my “shell” while spending time with friends early in the weekend, I realized just how much that decompression and rest were needed. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at my upcoming week and I wondered how I would make sure that everything happens the way it needs to AND that I am taken care of. I looked at the month of December in my planning calendar and felt my body slump in the chair as my mind said “It is ok! Just rally and vacation will be here before you know it!”
It isn’t just about rallying though and it isn’t about how convincing our smile is either.
During this season of church decorating, parties, meetings, extra worship services, and family events, we pastors need to remember that it is important to find a way to slow down and take in the peace and hope of the Christ child.
Maybe we can find a brief moment of peace over a cup of coffee and a devotional before we rush to get the kids out the door each morning. Maybe we can take a few minutes to sit in the Sanctuary, praying for those on hearts and just sitting in the silence and comfort of God’s embrace. Maybe we can sit and look out at the world, listening to the sounds of creation settling in for the night, just before we go to bed.
However we find it, I pray that each of us finds time to slow down during this season. I pray that in the midst of the planning and meeting, we can simply sit and be. We spend so much time reminding our parishioners to take care of themselves and to soak in the peace of the Advent season, I pray that we are able to listen to our own words this year.
As we prepare to move through the season of Advent, I will be focusing on living my life as worship rather than living to check off a to-do list. Over the next few weeks, I will reflect on different portions of worship in this blog and I invite you to follow along and consider how you can slow down and worship God through your own day-to-day life during this season. I pray that as we go on this journey together, we all might find moments of peace, hope, love and joy that will carry us through this joy and grief filled call which is ministry with God’s children!
Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M. Div. ’14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)