Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Taking care of ourselves."

Cloud and setting sun during an evening walk. 
The setting sun on the Otago Harbour during the same walk. 
Last Sunday afternoon's bike ride. After 16k I stopped for a drink and turned for home again. 
I love fresh vegetables out of the garden. 
My workshop where I "take care of myself."
Recently I received an invitation to a special "Commencement day" for Workplace Support chaplains. The theme for the professional development day is to be "Taking Care of ourselves". I groaned inwardly, because this seems to be a frequent theme for chaplains' gatherings. I decided that I would reply that I would be going to the day, but I also wanted to share a different perspective on the theme. My boss, thankfully, is an understanding person. I share with you what I wrote, a bit tongue in cheek.
I wrote....

"Yes I will be there. I am a bit cynical about the "Taking care of yourself" topic... It seems to be a frequent mantra at meetings....  It almost becomes a stress in itself.

There is truth in the theme but I have some questions about it taken too simply .... Just some one liners to think about ... ...

.... If Jesus was busy "taking care of himself" he would not have got crucified.

..... I encounter (in our drop-in centre, on the street, at the night shelter and sometimes in chaplaincy) heaps of messed up lives, in a mess because parents, teachers, ministers, social workers, friends were busy "taking care of themselves" ... watching their boundaries etc etc.

.... On the other had I see lives saved, changed, renewed etc. when people are willing to go out of their comfort zone, or the second mile for others. 

... There are charities, sports clubs, life enhancing community groups and churches struggling to do all that they should be doing because too many in the community are focussed on "taking care of them selves" and don't want to get too involved.

... We miss out on lots of stuff if we are too busy "taking care of ourselves".
e,g. In ministry on Friday evenings I would finish chaplaincy at 6 p.m. totally exhausted having worked 9 hours already. I would feel like going home and wish I could (if I was "taking care of myself" I would)... but at 6:30 I had to open the doors for the drop-in centre.  When I headed home some time after 10 p.m. I would be more exhausted but glowing... Just the feeling of fulfillment from giving myself in relationships etc.
or... I have in the last couple of months taken funerals that were vaguely related to chaplaincy. I had no need to take them. .. I was not currently chaplain for the people - I could have turned them down ... but I accepted them, (grudgingly) was super stressed out about them because they were difficult... But ...  when I conducted them, linked with the people, said things in a way that made sense for the people, saw their appreciation and them soaking up ministry I felt fulfilled, glowing, on top of the world. If I was "taking care of myself" I would have refused to do them, walked away from them and failed to know that deep sense of being.
I could give other examples... Often when we force ourselves beyond our comfort zones that's when real living takes place.

...... Do we truly believe Jesus' words "If you lose your life you will find it."?

...... Jesus was tired when he sat down at the well. The disciples went off to buy food. He was exhausted and thirsty but still engaged the woman in caring ministry. When the disciples returned with food he said, "I have meat that you know not of." He had been "fed" as he gave himself in ministry.

Sorry .... just a different perspective for your eyes only .... Don't worry the old man might soon be out of your hair! :-)

I'll be there with bells on. :-)

Dave Brown."

She replied with understanding and patience, but reminded me that as a workplace they have a responsibility to make sure we chaplains are looking after ourselves. 

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