When does your year begin? Perhaps its is the liturgical year and Advent marks the start. Perhaps it is the traditional January 1st turnover point, or perhaps, like many, the grip of the academic model means that September kicks off the sense of newness.
It has been said that only I am responsible for what I write in my diary. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that truth, before we feel we are under the tyranny of the diary. We do have choices, and whilst I recognise that clergy often feel weighed down by expectation and pressure of meetings, there are things we can do to help ourselves. The concept of rhythm is such an important one. It is part of the creation order, and of the covenant commandments. Strangely many clergy seem to forget that this is so, and the Sabbath principle of rest is the first thing to go.
For many of us, perhaps ordering our diaries with a rhythm at the start of the year is a helpful practice. Ensuring that our lives have space and committed time for rest, recreation, our family life, friends, physical exercise, spiritual retreats and holidays. Finding our own rhythm is the essential thing but getting it planned and entered into writing or the digital diary is a massive step towards it actually happening.
It is worth reflecting on what stops us doing this. Have we so let these things go that we need help to identify how we could reintroduce healthy ways of living? Are we so dependent upon our role as clergy to give us meaning that we fail to see the need for self-care, or are we too frightened to face this? Do we permit our congregations to have unreasonable expectations of us that we dare not challenge?
Whether ordained clergy or lay ministers (which we all are as Gods people!) I encourage you to consider taking time to plan the next season or year with these life-affirming aspects deliberately in mind.