In light of my research on clergy burnout among, and in consideration of this New Year ahead, I resolve to:
Take all of my allotted vacation in 2000---In my dissertation research, the average clergy took 13 days vacation during the year. Based on the policies of the WNCC at the time, the average clergy in the study group was entitled to 21 days of vacation. Over 40% of the sample did not agree with the statement: “I take an adequate amount of vacation each year.”
Spend regular time with my hobbies---One of the keys to burnout prevention is to have a life outside of the workplace. Across the connection there are pastors who have interests as diverse as basket weaving and mountain climbing. From my research, the kind of hobby that one engages in is not near as important as the interest in and time spent with it.
Schedule retreats for personal growth---This is not vacation time, but productive time. I am writing this article from a room just seven miles from home, but a world away from phones, e-mail and parishioners. During this four-hour retreat I read, prayed, wrote, prepared, and studied. More was done in a few hours than ever gets done in the office because of regular interruptions. How will you get away this year?
Get regular vigorous exercise---Less than 50% of the study claimed that they got regular vigorous exercise. Exercise is key to physical as well as mental health. There is a direct correlation between this finding and the fact that we are among the most costly to insure professionals in the world.
Intentionally spend time with colleagues in ministry---Nearly all of the sources dealing with clergy burnout point to collegiality as a mediating factor. It is also one of the most difficult things to practice. But I know that having friends in faith that will share my joys and burdens is the only way to survive this calling.
May we all resolve to take better care of ourselves in this New Year.