7 Ways to Deal with “Worcations”

August 23, 2011

Can you say “worcation”? Apparently, President Obama can! In this article from Fox News, President Obama’s current vacation to Martha’s Vineyard is referred to as a “worcation”.

The word is not new to our culture. UrbanDictionary.com has it in their list.

I didn’t need to look it up. My hunch is that you didn’t either. As Pastors, we are all too familiar with what a “worcation” is. Some of us disdain it, while others of us thrive on them.

Maybe it’s our need to feel like we’re not “wasting” time. Maybe it’s an effort to make a vacation financially feasible. We will sometimes even look for opportunities to preach at a friend’s church while the time is actually meant to be spent recharging with our family.

Some worcations are understandable. Denominational gatherings are often held in family-friendly cities where we would actually want to bring our spouse and kids and have them enjoy the locale. There is the occasional true emergency that takes place that may call you home from vacation for a day or two in order to deal with it.

But when your kids can’t remember the last vacation they’ve had that has not included time with you gone for whatever ministry-related reason, there’s a problem. When you haven’t taken your spouse away for a weekend (an actual weekend … you know, that Friday – Sunday string of days?) in “who knows how long”, you may be dealing with some self-expectations and potential insecurity issues.

I have two teenage boys whose schedules are “normal” (ie. their “weekend” is Friday – Sunday). I try to give them 2-3 of their weekends a year (outside of vacation time) where I am not preaching, so they have a “regular Dad” for a weekend.

Pastor, let me give you a few tips to help you keep from “worcations” becoming the norm instead of an exception:

  1. Think back to the last time you intentionally stayed away from work/ministry in order to really spend extended time with your spouse and kids
  2. Look at your current calendar … when is the next time you have already planned where that will happen? If the answer to that question is what I think it is, set a goal to get it planned with your spouse by one week from today.
  3. If your heart is feeling that tug to schedule it close to a friends church, resist the urge and plan for it to be as far away from a friends church as you can!
  4. If you’re concerned about who will take care of things when you’re gone, find someone you can begin addressing this with as soon as possible. A close friend who seems to have a handle on this or a therapist would be a good start. I have a list of some here that work with pastors.
  5. When you pack to leave for your vacation, leave the ministry-related reading behind. Bring some good novels or whatever reading you find fun. I know, I know … your ministry-related reading is fun to you. Trust me, leave it behind and bring some other fun.
  6. When you leave for your time away, turn off the email, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and any other alerts that are activated on your phone. Give one or two other people you trust the phone number of the place you’re staying. Remember the days when you actually had to be found when you were away? Enjoy some of them again.
  7. When you return, resist the urge to “hit the ground running”. Ease back in slowly. Do a half day your first day or two back in. Your kids will thank you for it, and believe me, so will the people who work with you.

Anything else you would add to the mix?

Even The Contemplative Struggle With Burnout

July 30, 2009

You may or may not have heard of Father Peter Norden, founder of a large social justice agency in Australia called Jesuit Social Services and a well-known Prison Chaplain down under. He recently announced his resignation from the ministry after 40 years, citing burnout.

Interesting juxtaposition, in that Jesuits are known to be practicing contemplative spirituality  in every way. You can click here to not only read some of his story, but listen to a radio interview done with him where he is very frank about recognizing the lack of self-care throughout his ministry career.

Also interesting is his take on what he calls the “institutional” church, and how he is carrying on his faith in God, but not necessarily a faith in the institutional church.

Many here know that I work alongside Pastor Pete Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The thesis of the material is that you cannot seperate your spiritual maturity from your emotional health. Going further, Scazzero contends that living a life of contemplative spirituality is a primary way to bring the emotional life and health into line with your spiritual life.

Scazzero often says “the two, emotionall healthy spirituality and contemplative spirituality, go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.” Father Norden’s story seems to be additional confirmation to this assertion.

Read, listen, and share your thoughts below.

(Special thanks to Bernie Federmann, Pastor of Lompoc Foursquare Church in Lompoc, CA, for alerting us to this story)

Redeeming the Secular

June 11, 2009

I know this post may cause some controversy, especially following my last post. However, when my wife encouraged me to read this column from the LA Times’ Chris Erskine, I immediately thought of how some of the things we lament in our culture can truly be redeemed. This is one of those things.

Read on, for those who are married, please enjoy, and feel free to leave any comments you feel appropriate. Really, it’s OK, ….. you’re not gonna hurt my feelings. I just think this is funny, and we could all use a good chuckle. Some may even be brave enough to try it, but please, ONLY with your spouse!

Baring his soul . . . and more

OK, sexting his wife was a snap decision and maybe he’ll regret it later.
June 6, 2009

Keeping a relationship alive these days isn’t easy. So, in an effort to demonstrate my commitment, I just sexted my wife of 27 years — that is, I have sent her a revealing photo taken with my cellphone.

Love, says H.L. Mencken, is merely “a state of perceptual anesthesia.”

Now, I know my parents would never approve, but I don’t care anymore what they think. They’re not the boss of me.

And I don’t see what’s so wrong with sexting. It’s a declaration of love, much like a wedding ring or a ginormous dragon tattoo, from your hipbone to your neck. At least I didn’t do that.

In my case, I didn’t do anything bad to my body. I just lifted my Dodger T-shirt. Aim. Snap. Send.

Now, I know what you’re wondering. What happens when Posh eventually dumps you? Wonder if, out of spite, your wife distributes your sexy photo to her friends (the Yummy Mummies), and then the revealing photo makes its way all over the Internet and onto their Facebook pages, which they’ve suddenly flocked to like pigeons to popcorn? Facebook, the new merlot.

Anyway, suppose that happens, then what? You know how those Yummy Mummies are — they can’t keep a secret, especially not a sexy one.

You know, you just can’t worry about what other people think. I love Posh and she loves me. Besides, I’m tired of parents getting all judgmental over everything us kids do. My mom, she’s 84 now, won’t even let me get my tongue pierced. I said, “Mom, back off, OK? Gimme my space! I’m old enough to disgrace myself in any way I see fit!!!!”

Then I cried a little. Then I called Posh and we talked for, like, four hours.

::

If you’re not familiar with “sexting,” here’s the deal. Beginning a year or two ago, teenagers (usually girls) began sending naked or semi-naked cellphone photos of themselves to the loves of their lives.

At first blush — assuming anyone blushes anymore — this moronic gesture seemed mostly harmless. Sure, it compromised the poor girl’s dignity and any sense of self-worth. But that’s OK. Dignity and self-worth are now available at most major department stores and online.

The only permanent drawback to sexting is that a teenage girl can be a rather fickle creature. Sometimes, the love of her life turns out to be the love of her week.

So, in practice, when the girlfriends eventually dumped the boys, some of the jilted boys also forgot their sense of dignity and distributed the embarrassing shots to their friends, who sent it to their friends, till pretty much everyone in the world had it.

This, my friends, is how sexting got such a lousy, undeserved reputation.

This, I assure you, will never happen to me.

Aim. Snap. Send.

::

It’s not till now — yesterday morning, actually — that dads like me started sexting, meaning the trend may have run its course, who knows. That would be unfortunate. As with many things, once a dad does it, it’s never really cool again. Like when your old man started watching “Idol.”

Or Mom got her mitts on Facebook.

But let me just say this: Sexting rocks! Sexting is exciting! It made me feel all sexy again, and I didn’t even need to take any of those pills that can give you a big honkin’ headache and sometimes, occasionally kill you. All I had to do was act on impulse and lift my shirt.

I also included a little note: “YOU+ME 4-EVER!”

What did Posh do? Well, I sent the sext-message from the next room, and when Posh received it, she yelped a little, then gagged, then got all dizzy and passed out. It was like our honeymoon all over again. I kissed her to consciousness, then we went out for a nice lunch.

Aim. Snap. Delete.

Study & Planning Break

February 4, 2009

One of the practices I learned about through my burnout experience several years ago is the importance of getting away regularly for the purpose of clearing my head and heart, being with God, and hearing His voice. It’s not as intense as it may sound by the title I give it, but I call it a Study & Planning Break.

I try to do at least two of them each year, though the one I write from now is long overdue. It’s been about a year and a half since my last one. Sometimes, the personal pace of life, family, both spouses working, kids school schedules, let alone church life and schedules, just get in the way.

Matter of fact, doing these is like leaving home for vacation ONLY in the sense that trying to get out of town and away from home can be a big hassle. All kids of things to arrange, tasks you want completed before you leave so your mind can be free, and the like. This one was certainly that way when I left on Monday (today is Wednesday).

You can do these almost anywhere that they work for you. This one happens to be at a friends place in at Lake Tahoe, about 400 miles north of my home. Since I love to drive,and that’s one way that really helps me clear my head, the drive is part of what I need and enjoy very much. It may not be that way for you, so maybe that wouldn’t work.

I try to schedule them so that I can have AT LEAST 3-4 days of time. So, for this one, I drove on Monday and will drive home on Saturday. That gives me four full days, Tuesday – Friday.

I always plan for the first day (yesterday, Tuesday) to be a day of decompression:

  • Lots of sleep
  • Lots of quiet (I read this week that it’s good for preachers to remember that God’s first language is silence! It takes time to get acquainted with it. You have to do it on purpose.)
  • Moving slowly
  • “Mind Dump” (writing down tasks coming to mind that haven’t made it to my to-do list yet)
  • Light reading (usually something NON-ministry related – you can see a review of the book I just finished here)
  • Taking a long walk
  • Seeing a movie

Then, on the 2nd – 4th days, I’ll focus on mapping out my message direction for the next few months. This week, I am preaching Sunday, so I’ll use some time to write this weekend’s message. I’ll calendar, read (usually something related to an upcoming series or two, as well as reading larger chunks of Scripture than I normally do when  at home), write, take walks.

On these breaks, I follow my body clock. I’m a night owl, so I enjoy working late and sleeping in, which doesn’t happen at home very naturally. That means I’ll take naps when I feel them coming on.

I use Time and Newsweek magazines for some research, so I’ll let them collect for weeks and then fly through them, tearing out what I want to use and file. I’ve got a box of them to go through while I am here.

I do a lot of relfection on these breaks, and enjoy long periods of time just talking to the Lord and listening for what He wants to say as well. Sometimes I go home with a strong word and other times not. Either way, He and I have had some good, long periods of time just being together.

That’s kind of what the Study & Planning Break looks like. I’ve done them alone, but they’re always safer and more fun to do with a friend. On this one, a friend who I haven’t connected with in a long time was able to come with me.

It’s important in selecting your “break-mate” that you both understand and are not awkward about the need to give each other a lot of silence and solitude. I always look for someone who I know I won’t be a distraction to and he won’t be to me either.

I also purposely look for someone who I know I’m going to have fun with. I am too reflective and not very funny naturally, so it helps me to have someone who I know is going to get me laughing!

Any habits you’ve developed along these lines that you can share? I’ve had a number of Pastor-friends who have made mention that they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves on a retreat like this. Maybe sometime, if enough interest is generated, we’ll do a small group “Pastor For Life” Study & Planning Break. Would you be interested?

Cletus Take The Wheel (Uh-huh, you guessed it!)

January 25, 2009

You gotta check out this absolutely hilarious video by comedian Tim Hawkins!

Post-Holiday Intense Life Patterns

January 25, 2009

Is it just me, or do you find that your counseling requests increase right after the holidays with INTENSE situations? Over the first three weeks of the New Year, I’ve had a handful of REALLy intense life situations for people and couples in the church.

Looking back, I am finding this to be common at the first part of the year. Maybe due to the holiday stress and steam letting out, maybe due to the financial stress of the holiday season and credit cards being stretched.

The symptoms don’t present themselves that way, but the proverbial cork is definitely popping off the top of some relationships and lives right now.

Let me wncourage you to manage your focus and health well. Keep up (or for some, begin now) the habits of doing things just for you, rather than getting caught in the cycle of doing for everyone else.

When life and relationships are leaning on us hard, it’s important to be sure we’re standing on the right Rock! I’ve been “working” to be sure my life has some non-church/non-work margin to it.

For instance:

  • I spent some extra time this week with Colleen, going to bed when she does (I’m a night owl by nature).
  • I attended and celebrated Colleen’s first Certified Nurse’s Assistant Class Graduation. Her first 10 students couldn’t say enough about her and boy did she soar and shine handing out those certificates of completion!
  • I spent a chunk of time this week with some new friends in ministry that I don’t get to see very often, and it’s been refreshing and rewarding.
  • I took the time (even though there wasn’t much) to keep my quarterly appointment with my psychiatrist. The drive there and back is always relaxing for me, and the time in the appointment well worth it.

What are you doing for you to keep your margins well-attended?

Are You Ready?

January 15, 2009

You gotta have some fun … if you don’t, that’s part of what sucks the life right out of you. I love this video partly because I got saved after watching “Thief In The Night”. Have a good laugh!

The Rapture Song
(I love this one partly because I got saved after watching “Thief In The Night”)

Help When You Hurt

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A Place For You

Many Pastors are not aware that all over the country are a number of places you can retreat to for a number of given reasons or purposes. Find some of them here, get there, and find your pace!
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