Saturday, November 20, 2010


I think I am starting to get a handle on the importance of ministers taking a day off every week. I spoke to someone this week asking him why he felt our Friday chapel worship didn't work so well the previous week. Using my own words, what he basically said is that it lacked energy.
I am wondering if energy isn't the gift that a minister offers a congregation. I know that when I am strong I can walk into a meeting or lead a worship service and raise the energy level. When I am tired or not confident in the situation I can't - or at least not easily.
The other thing that energy does is allow a minister to be flexible. Organising stuff at seminary is so difficult because the schedule is changing constantly and it is really hard to get people together for, say, a worship practice. Now try to organise something that puts people in the seminary together with people outside the seminary - one has to be flexible.
I know that I am tired at the moment. I know that I am struggling to bring energy. I know that I want to just give up and cry when something doesn't come right. And I'm not complaining - this is life, but I'm trying to figure it out.
The third thing about energy - and especially as a mother - is that a day off means that you stop working for the church and work for the family or household instead. So my Saturday means cleaning the kitchen and doing the ironing as well as sermon prep if I am preaching. It isn't really a day off.
I know that I would be stronger if I took a week day and just did my own thing. Got away from the family, or did a fun thing with them. And I would be far more effective as a minister. I could bring energy because I would have energy. I could be flexible. I could cope with the unexpected situation. Of course, taking the day off while others are slaving away would also be perceived as lazy. So I need to make the conscious step to deal with that.
I suddenly understand the difference between this and a desk job. I can work on computer programming and web stuff for hours. But I never need to supply energy to the people or world around me. If I am tired I can just bury myself in my work. Hide away. A minister can do that quite a lot, but that is not the point of ministry.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. In God's strength maybe I can get that right. I know this is nothing new. I know Jesus did it. But I think I've really understood it for the first time.


Thomas O. Scarborough said...

I wouldn't say, though, that energy is a prerequisite of ministry, as God doesn't need energetic servants. In another way, however, it is crucial, and more important than much else. Rather an hour of sharpening the axe and ten minutes of chopping than a blunt axe.

John van de Laar said...

"Of course, taking the day off while others are slaving away would also be perceived as lazy."

...Or prophetic. In a world where people burn out left, right and centre, and where the art and discipline of Sabbath has been forgotten, a minister who has learned to Sabbath without feeling guilty or needing to justify the 'laziness' to his/her people is acting prophetically, and offering a vision of a different way of living - an alternative, gospel way of living.

Or at least, that's how I see it. Grace to you as you keep working this out, Jen.

Steven Jones said...

Certainly, whatever participation I have had in worship the last couple of weeks has probably contributed to the "lack of energy" - I am stuffed! Not a good excuse, I know, but that's the reality right now. This has been a long year...

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thomas - I think it would be interesting to see how many growing churches have pastors who could be labelled energetic. In days gone by, pastors offered the congregation superior education and scholarship. Now I think we offer them hope and a way out of the rat race. Which is why, I think, Godless but energetic pastors are also sometimes successful.
John - amen, you've added a string to my bow there. I can say to people don't criticise me, copy me!
Steven - you are not alone, we are all tired! mindae.