The 2022 National Conference is just around the corner, so it’s a great time to start thinking more about our theme, wellbeing. We thought this would be a great opportunity to hear from some of the shepherds among us. I asked a simple question of them-What are 5 ways you prioritize wellbeing? As I collected their responses, I observed an interesting pattern. One person broke down their practices into three categories: mental/emotional wellness, physical wellness, and spiritual wellness. While the others didn’t explicitly mention these categories, their responses easily fell into the boxes.
As I sat with these responses, a passage from the Gospels came to mind: “. . . you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, NRSV). These words are also captured in Luke 10:27 and Matthew 22:37. The original text Jesus is quoting is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, known as the Shema. Some might translate these areas as: heart = emotional, soul = spiritual, and mind/strength = physical. Whichever way you might view the categories, the idea is that we are to love God with our whole, entire selves. It helps to think holistically because there is a lot of overlap between the three areas.
Now that I’ve given a little backstory, here’s the list you’ve been waiting for:
10 Ways Pastors Prioritize Wellbeing
- Spend time reading, meditating on, and memorizing scripture
- Get an annual physical
- Spend quality time with loved ones
- See a spiritual director and a therapist
- Get outside, and do something physical (walk, bike riding, play a sport, etc.)
- Practice solitude
- Laugh – a lot!
- Get a hobby, and enjoy doing it
Can I tell you a secret? This piece used to be called “5 Ways Pastors Prioritize Wellbeing,” but I had a hard time whittling the list down to 5 items when I had received so many lifegiving ideas. I won’t add more items to the list, but I will share some of the resources that were recommended along with a few I’ve discovered on my own.
Some helpful books (including some authored by CCDA members) are:
- Donna Barber’s Bread for Resistance: 40 Devotions for Justice People
- Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry
- The Enneagram Daily Reflection series from IVP
- Marlena Graves’ The Way Up is Down: Becoming Yourself By Forgetting Yourself
A few digital resources are:
- Pray As You Go provides daily prayers and meditations that you can listen to on their website or via their app.
- Get in the Word with Truth’s Table (podcast)
- Pax StoryArc, in their own words, is “a multi-sensory publication created by people of color that helps us become more like Jesus.” Each volume includes teaching, poetry, spiritual practices, music, videos, etc. It’s an artistic feast for the soul! The current issue is all about contemplative activism, and it includes an article I wrote about how Jesus demonstrates some contemplative practices that were holistic and contributed to his wellbeing.
Some CCDA Resources:
- Soul Strength for Justice Work
- From Spiritual Bypassing to Entering into Each Other’s Pain
- A Spirituality for the Long Haul
- Building Spiritual Formation Cultures In Urban Organizations
There’s no time like the present to try some wellbeing practices, so I’m leaving you with two songs. The first, “With My Whole Heart” reminds me to love God with my whole self. The second, “They That Wait,” is based on Isaiah 40:30-31 and reminds me that my strength comes from God.