Word Magazine April, 1991 Page 12
A CRY FOR COOPERATION
(Part 4 of a four part series.)
Cure For Burnout
by Dr Peter M. Kalellis
There are eight important ingredients for curing clergy burnout:
1. Information about Church Ministry
2. A Significant Other Person
3. Small Group Membership
4. Goal-Oriented Activity
5. Knowledge of Self
6. Financial Support
7. Frame of Reference
8. Self-Nourishing Activity
Let us briefly discuss these ingredients.
1. Information about Church Ministry:
Develop your own selective library — not an overwhelming number of books, but rather a small number that you can conceivably read.
The literature of the Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Churches is updated on almost any topic: Christian Education, Church Administration, Youth Programs; name it and they have it. Our seminary bookstores are a marvelous source of information.
2. A Significant Other Person
You have heard the song, “People need people. . .” Every human being must have at least one other person with whom he or she has an intimate relationship. However, it is important that the feelings and levels of intimacy be mutual. The significant other must be a person who knows you on a completely honest and open level. Who could this person be for a priest or khoureeye?
What is important here is that this relationship must provide a climate of warmth, acceptance and understanding, where feelings of love can develop.
3. Small Group Membership:
Being a part of something larger than oneself provides a feeling of solidarity A swimming club, a bowling league, a ministerium — something that does not tax you heavily but provides support when you need it.
4. Goal-Oriented Activity:
Whether it is a class with a curriculum of your choice, which you conduct for a certain period of the year, or an activity with measurable standards of performance, such as a hobby, the feedback that you receive is a self-esteem builder.
A goal-oriented activity does not have to be a Church activity. It could be strictly personal or family oriented. Your own flowers or garden can be a refreshing approach to nature.
5. Knowledge of Self:
We all learned this classical admonition very early in our lives. Truly, every person must have a clear notion who he or she is. Starting a study of self-knowledge can be an interesting exercise. Make a list of twenty items that describe yourself. For example, write some descriptive phrases about your qualities: I am kind. I am loving. I am generous. I am intelligent. I like ouzo.
Your description of self does not have to be positive, or philosophical or psychological.
But, suppose you cannot write down twenty phrases. Then, find a significant other, and ask his or her help.
The purpose of this list is twofold: first, it will force you to do some introspective work, and it will shift the balance from focusing on your ministry to focusing on yourself; second, it will provide an inventory of yourself that you can refer to at times of stress and self-doubt.
6. Financial Support:
That dollar that shows up at the prothesis has a purpose. Don’t be eager to invest it in charity. Put it where you can have access to it. When there is an envelope containing a number of dollars which you have collected over the months, you feel a certain strength, for you can buy that personal “thing” or provide yourself with some needed service.
7. Frame of Reference:
Every human being needs to have faith in something greater than man. Faith provides meaning for our lives, and, at times, faith diffuses our tension and allows healing to take place.
Faith in God, faith in prayer — faith can guide our steps when there is confusion.
8. Self-Nourishing Activity:
From day to day, from Sunday to Sunday, energy flows from the priest and khoureeye toward the community. Common sense tells us that energy is not inexhaustible. Like our lives, energy is finite.
On a regular basis, learn to feed your emotional world. As selfish as this may sound, one must find an activity that exclusively pleases one’s self.
Simply, you cannot give someone five dollars if you do not have it. You cannot give love if you do not have it. You cannot give energy if you do not restore your own energy. This type of thinking does not give anyone permission to become totally selfish and ignore one’s responsibilities. All that is needed is for you to take time out — half-an-hour per day — to cultivate your own garden, your soul. (The end)
Dr Peter M. Kalellis is director and founder of the Human Growth Center of Westfield, NJ. We thank him for this excellent contribution to our official publication. MANY YEARS!