March 2018: Self-Care of the Minister

 
In this Issue


Opening Remarks

March 2018 
 
Happy Easter from all of us at The Reid Group!
 
In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Senior Consultant Tom Reid offers insights in to self-care for ministers in his article, ” Self-Care of the Minister “

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The Reid Group News

  • Maureen Gallagher was in Colorado in March attending a week-long workshop led by Meg Wheatley focused on leadership and community building.
  • Tom Reid continues his results-based fund raising work with Education across Borders. Their mission statement is: “We work in partnership with marginalized communities in the Dominican Republic to co-create lasting solutions to extreme poverty, through educational, community development, and service-learning programs.”
  • Tom Reid, Maureen Reid and John Reid completed their work in Mercer Island, WA with the St. Monica Catholic School planning process.
  • John Reid and Maureen Reid will be conducting 30+ focus groups in Minnesota as part of a planning process being sponsored by Rochester Catholic Schools.  
  • Maureen Gallagher and John Reid facilitated listening sessions and met with the Board and Staff of the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago this month. Their final report with recommendations will be presented in April. 
  • Maureen Gallagher and John Reid are conducting a Search for the Executive Director position with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston and their Corporation for Sponsored Ministries. If you are interested in learning more about this position, google Corporation for Sponsored Ministries and contact Maureen or John
  • Tom Reid will be presenting and facilitating a Reid Group co-sponsored webinar Tips for Living Your Whole Life Well
  • Thursday, March 29 th at 1 PM.
    Register here… Registration
    Living Whole Life is a strategic partner of The Reid Group
  • The Reid Group is a strategic partner with Tryon Clear View Group, a cost reduction company that specializes in Purchase Services Audits where they identify, verify and recover billing errors, vendor overcharges which are refundable to organizations.  They then secure these reimbursements from the vendors.  In addition to telecommunication, copiers, waste management and utilities charges, they also audit postal services and credit card processing. The only fee paid by the client is a percentage of the actual savings.  The first two contracts secured by this strategic partnership are a college and a Catholic parish; we have received the first report of savings for one of these contracts which showed savings of $60,000 over the next five years in telecommunications alone.   If you are interested in this service, contact us at info@TheReidGroup.biz.
  • Our Strategic Partner Joe Sankovich has developed an important resource for dioceses and parishes with cemeteries called TOOLBOX FOR PARISH CEMETERIES. For more information go to: sankovich.com. Joe Sankovich, former director of cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and owner of Sankovich & Associates since 1990, has developed an educational tool for parishes with their own Catholic cemeteries.  Directed to pastors, parish business managers, cemetery managers/sextons/superintendents, parish cemetery advisory board members and parish finance council members, the six hard copy manuals are formatted in the same fashion as the early diocesan teaching documents for the Second Vatican Council.  Sankovich waited until he had worked with/in more than 1,200 parish cemeteries in different areas of the United States, and conducted more than 100 seminars with pastors, parish and cemetery employees/volunteers, to organize and format these manuals.
  • The Reid Group is also a strategic partner with The Steier Group. The Steier Group is a national, capital campaign fundraising firm based in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas. They provide nonprofits with customized campaign planning studies, guidance from a team of expert project managers and strategic insight designed to help our clients reach their fundraising goals. Contact Nic Prenger, Steier Group president, for more information about the firm’s services. http://www.steiergroup.com.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.


  Self-Care of the Minister

Tom Reid, Senior Consultant
 
Jesus came so that we could have life and life to the full.
John 10:10 
 
Back in the mid to late seventies I worked with the Ministry to Priests Program as part of the Center for Human Development at the University of Notre Dame. During that time we worked in more than thirty dioceses around the country. In the early eighties I facilitated a priest support group focused on spirituality and spiritual development. One of the mantras in the ministry to priest work was: “Your ministry is as healthy as you are.” From these formative experiences and borne out repeatedly in my subsequent work as a consultant and life coach over many years I have observed that the demands of ministry make it all too easy to be focused on the needs of others to the neglect of one’s own needs. These work experiences and my own process of human and spiritual development has repeatedly driven home the need to attend to self-care.
 
For many ministers and others in the helping professions, “self-care” is often associated with being selfish or self-centered. In fact, I believe it is an example of the practice of good stewardship, taking care of the gifts we have been given so that we have more to offer to the people that we live and work with, the communities we are part of, and the people we serve.   
 
The practice of self-care is a means to living an integrated life, a life of less stress and more ease. But our culture promotes a consumer-oriented and machine-like approach to life. The world and structures of life are rationally constructed and tempt us to lead compartmentalized lives dissociated from our emotions or spirituality.
 
This is in stark contrast to intentionally cultivating and respecting life as an organic process, a living system. During the winter, I have been working in the yard cleaning up the flowerbeds. It has been quite cold for Seattle this season but as I rake old leaves, I see that new life is both ready and in some cases is already emerging. The emergence of new life is not wholly dependent on my actions—like raking up old leaves or giving supplemental water—but my actions can enhance it or detract from it. Similarly, the quality of my life can be greatly enhanced or greatly diminished by my level of commitment to self-care.
 
To live life as an organic, constantly regenerating process depends on adequate attention to practices of self-care. And developing an effective regimen of self-care takes energy, discipline and support.
 
Begin with an assessment of your whole person
A place to start is with an assessment of your current reality in a number of different dimensions:
Dimensions of the Whole Person 
Particular dimension
+ things are going well / –things need improvement / OK things are satisfactory 
 
Physical
Intellectual-Mental
Emotional-relational
Spiritual
Family, friends, communities, networks
Vocation-career
Financial
Giving Back/Paying it Forward
 
How would you characterize your current status in each of these areas? Use a + if things are going well, a – if this is an area of need or calling for action and an ok if current reality is satisfactory. Prioritize your top one to three areas. Does your assessment reflect your priorities?
 
Value of discipline
Identifying your priorities for the practice of self-care is just a start. We don’t naturally develop or mature without the conscious commitment to become more focused and disciplined through consistent practice. 
 
In an article titled, “Following Jesus in the Real World: Asceticism Today,” George Maloney helps us to see the rich potential of discipline which he describes as “the conscious self-control and systematic exercise of the Christian life in the light of obtaining the goal: the growing experience of God and a growing unity with God, neighbor and self.”
 
Discipline has, he says, a negative side in that it addresses “removing all that hinders one’s ability to love,” but it also has a positive side, emphasizing “consistent striving to gain virtues and graces that develop a Christian spirit of love.”
 
The negative image of discipline for many of us may stem from an image of God as judge and a spirituality which sees pleasure as bad and pain as good. Yet Maloney’s reference to negative and positive aspects of discipline—taking away and adding to—call to mind the concept of dying and rising so present in our minds, especially during Lent and Easter.
 
This Paschal mystery was a remote abstraction to me until the time of my father’s dying when I began to understand the connection between death and new life in a very personal way. As I did in raking my flower beds this winter, we experience this connection in the rhythm of nature, moving out of winter and into spring. I find discipline to be a friend because it keeps this connection always before me and helps me focus on these questions in my life: Where am I called to die or to let go, and where am I called to new life or new patterns of action?
 
Both in my own life and in my ministry experience I have continually encountered the need for the small steps of practical action. The night before I embarked on a year abroad in college a friend of mine gave me an empty book saying that I may want to write. I started out by keeping a diary, reporting daily activities. After a few months I crossed through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin. Later that day writing to describe my experience, my writing moved from a report to a reflection of how I never realized how much I had taken my freedom for granted. Over many years I have found journaling to be a way of “writing myself to self-understanding.”
 
Practices of self-care
Practice is the key to progress in any field and self-care is no exception. There are a number of practices or disciplines you can use to advance your regimen of self-care:
 
1.       Take care of the body.  
This concerns exercise, diet, proper nutrition and rest. Eating healthy is important, but also consider the discipline of fasting. Fasting from food strengthens our sense of solidarity with the millions in our world who go hungry every day. The practice of fasting can also extend to other things that are “too much” in our lives: business, television, texting, email, surfing the web, judgment of self or others, etc.
 
2.       Cultivate silence
Most of us are too busy and almost totally focused outward. Make space in your day and week for solitude and silence. When we slow down and make time for silence we can become aware of life and our place in it. (“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10)
 
3.       Engage in reading and reflection. 
Exercise your mind. Emphasize quality over quantity—and subjects that nourish your life and spirit.
 
4.       Make time for regular personal and communal prayer. 
Any relationship requires time—prayer is quiet time with the Holy One.
 
5.       Participate in a community of faith.
Gathering regularly with a faith community breaks us out of our individualism and calls us to the common good. It is also the place where we are invited to share our faith connected to daily life and receive support and challenge to live it out in daily life.
 
6.       Keep a journal
One way to keep in touch with the inner life is to keep a journal. Give yourself the gift of an empty book and carry it with you at all times.
 
7.       Spend time in nature
Taking advantage of the outdoors teaches us the natural rhythms. “We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.” – Chief Dan George
 
8.       Pay attention to the particulars of your relationships
Our human and spiritual development is intimately bound up and reflected by the key relationships in our lives.
 
9.       Engage in acts of service
Bottom line: life is not about us or what we’re getting. We are gifted in immense ways and in recognition of this, we give back—and are empowered and enriched by the giving.
 
10.  Make an annual retreat. 
Stepping back from the normal routine of life frees up our energy to attend to both our inner and outer life.
 
11.  Choose a spiritual director or coach. 
Most of us are not going to engage in a consistent practice of self-care on our own. Spiritual directors, coaches, mentors—all of these offer a necessary support structure. They will challenge and encourage you in the direction you are feeling called and hold you accountable for the actions that will get you there.
 
12.  Find a small faith sharing or growth group
Meeting at least once a month to reflect and share your journey with others keeps us honest and can be very enriching.
 
Many leaders, and perhaps especially ministers, are tempted to ignore self-care in the face of unceasing calls on their time and energy. But too many ministers learn the hard way that neglecting their own care leaves them with fewer and fewer resources with which to care for those they serve. Consistent practices of self-care regenerate the commitment to and energy for the important work of ministry.
 
 

Tom Reid is a Senior Partner with The Reid Group, a national consulting firm helping leaders and organizations transform challenges into opportunities to create a better world in the areas of Strategic Planning, Leadership Formation, Leadership Search, Fund Development, Conflict Resolution and Meeting Design and Facilitation.  For more information about The Reid Group, its programs and services, visit our website:  www.TheReidGroup.biz.

© 2017 The Reid Group 


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