Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, October 8, 2012

The "wee bit burned out" experience...

Some pressures...
I have come to realise that I am a little "burned out". Let me share some things going on in my life.

  • I have embarrassing "men's plumbing" medical issues. They are inconvenient to say the least. There is a measure of uncertainty about them, the medical people try one thing then say "We'll see how that goes." I have an appointment with a specialist tomorrow but I suspect we will be not much closer to finding out the cause. My future health status is uncertain.
  • I am chair of the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust. We are always needing funds to keep operating and this need brings a sense of anxiety. We have projects underway with some teething problems. This brings pressure. Night shelter work lately has tended to intrude on Church and chaplaincy work much more than it should. This also brings time pressure on other tasks and deadlines. 
  • I have indicated that I intend to retire at the end of 2013. This means that my time at this Church is drawing to a close. I feel like I have not been able to achieve what I would like to have done and that further progress is unlikely. It is also doubtful that some things we have going will be able to continue. It will also mark the end of my career.  I look forward to not having the demands of ministry and to a new phase of life, but at the same time I feel disappointed that I never managed to bring real change throughout my ministry career.  I believe different ways of doing "Church" need to be explored. I am convinced that to be true to Jesus, there needs to be a major shift in emphases and understandings... a new reformation. I had a dream of a Jesus-based community centre. For a number of reasons, this has not evolved far enough to be established. So there is a sense of disappointment and self-questioning. Have I wasted years of my life? Have I not been assertive enough? Have I avoided necessary conflict? etc. etc. etc. Of course deep down I know I have made a difference for quite a number of people, but I guess that such questions are a natural part of a transition from working life to retirement. There is the realisation that the change dreamed of will not happen on my watch, or perhaps even in my life.
As I worked away in the garden briefly today I began to reflect on my recent reactions. Here are a list of my symptoms.

  • I am not "feeling".  In situations where I should feel sad or glad, or loving or excited, I am more or less just neutral... a bit like going through the motions of life.
  • When I came back from my conference last week, I picked up the phone in the office and realised that there were messages left on it, awaiting my return. Normally I would check these and respond, but I just did not want to face the responsibilities involved. I had enough to do, so irresponsibly I guess, I decided not to check the messages till this week. If it was really urgent, I reasoned, they will try again. (I did check them today) I am procrastinating more than I usually do, on things I should do.
  • Getting "fire in my belly" about Sunday services is a lot harder. I find myself saying on Saturday night when I am trying to polish off preparation "What's the use? Why do it?" 
  • Today on my day off, we were in town when we got a text from the man who opens up Space2B. He was at a hospital appointment that was running late. We decided to step in and open Space2B for him. It involves setting up, making coffee and hosting the guests who come in during the lunch hour. After setting up I looked at the familiar people arriving and we decided I could hide in my office and leave my wife to care for them. I just did not want to socialise. When one of our guests came down to my office I groaned inwardly. I was nice and friendly because I quite like this guy, but inside I was screaming, "Its my day off! Leave me alone!"
I hope for some routine weeks, with not too much extra pressure so that I can muster my reserves to get through the year. I have been here before so I know I will survive. It is just a case of digging in, taking time to withdraw regularly and walk up the mountain, taking one day at a time and eventually grasping the passion for life and ministry again.

No comments: