I’ve been reading “Going the Distance” by Peter Brain, about “How to stay fit for a lifetime of ministry.” It’s very helpful for understanding the nature of ministry and the stressors of every day. I think everyone who does any kind of ministry should read it, particularly those who do lots of it. It’s directed at pastors/ministers, but I think it has great value for others.
Particularly the chapters on Stress and Adrenaline, and Depression.
He describes the nature of stress and adrenaline in a sin (not transgressions, trigonometry) wave.
All events produce their own stress, requiring adrenalin to deal with events – good (meeting with students to read the bible), neutral (work, meetings), and bad (hard conversations, loss of relationships, big workload).
As each event finishes and the adrenalin isn’t needed anymore, there’s a natural “let-down” (each dip in the graph) where the body returns to normal.
If there is no opportunity to have a “let-down” (rest, time alone, exercise), more adrenaline is needed and the body remains at a heightened level of alertness to deal with the events. This is bad; the body’s not designed to maintain high levels for long periods.
I’ve mapped out my week, generally:
Sunday: Family time, bible study, church – slight relaxed time after church and on Monday morning.
Monday: Bible study, leading a training group, conversations with students – slight let down before bed.
Tuesday: Conversations with students, staff meeting, family time at night.
Wednesday: Massive let down to cope with the high stressors the last three days – pretty useless in the morning, unable to concentrate, and guilt for not being able to do work I need to do.
Thursday: Work in disabilities. Catch up with chill-out friend. Rest at night.
Friday: Work in disabilities. Rest at night.
Saturday: Day off.
My new goal is to take Wednesday mornings off – even just to shift the day a few hours later – to deliberately not even try to do work so that there are no added guilt feelings and so I have a chance to recover from the previous three days. I’ll be able to take the time to have a sleep in, lots of bible time, go for a run, have lunch and then start work.