Working in a church leadership role can be the best job in the world. It can also be pretty tough. The purpose of this Lifelong Learning option is to help you make sure you thrive through the joys and challenges of pastoral life.
How it works
This option combines practical tasks to evaluate and improve your personal self-care, coaching from a person outside your church context, and a modest amount of reading and reflection.
At the start of this ten-month option, you need to make arrangements with a suitable person to act as your coach through the year, meeting every 1-2 months.
The coach for this Lifelong Learning option could be:
- A pastor or other church worker outside your church
- A counsellor, psychotherapist, life coach or spiritual director
- Another person who can help you reflect on the changes you are making and experimenting with.
You can email this Guide to Coaching page to a potential coach when you ask them.
Components of the Course
- Analysis and reflection of how you spend your time.
- Goal-setting as a response to the analysis.
- Making a self-care plan for the year following this course.
- Reading and reflection.
- Meeting with a self-care coach every 1-2 months.
- [Optional] Interaction in a private Facebook group.
The only absolute deadline for this course is the end date of 15 November. Pastors are adult learners who we trust to arrange their studies effectively through the year. Please complete the components of the course at a time that makes sense for your schedule, but within these two-month blocks. If you need further flexibility, please contact Thalia.
Component #1: January-February
- a bit about yourself, your living situation and your ministry role
- why you chose this Lifelong Learning option
- your formal job description
- whether you want to join the Facebook group.
- Read and reflect on these two short articles on self-care and rest:
- Find someone to be your coach for this year of self-care learning.
- [Optional] Consider joining the private Facebook group where we will share ideas, chat and encourage each other through this year. The group is ‘Secret’ so the fact that you are joining will not be visible to your Facebook friends, and no one else can find or join the group. To join you will need to ask Thalia or another member of the group to add you. Please email Thalia if you want her to add you.
Component #2: March-April
- Complete a two-week time use diary (see separate PDF for details).
- Meet with your coach to discuss your observations.
- Make 1-3 specific, measurable goals in response to what you notice, to work towards over the next three months.
- Explore this clergy wellness website, and make notes on what seems most useful for your situation. Discuss your notes with another person (your coach, a friend, partner, colleague – anyone). https://sites.duke.edu/theconnection/
Component #3: May-June
- Work on your self-care goals and send a very brief report on your progress to Thalia.
- Choose a book from this list, or another that you and your coach agree will help you meet your goals. Read the book and chat about it as you go with a conversation partner, or in the Facebook group.
Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Marva Dawn
Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen
Boundaries, Cloud and Townsend
- Meet with coach.
Component #4: July-August
- Do a one-week time use diary (following the same guidelines as the earlier one.)
- Discuss your observations with your coach.
- Evaluate your progress towards your self-care goals. Make 1-3 new ones or continue working towards or consolidating your existing goals.
Component #5: September-October
- Write a self-care plan for the coming year. Include measurable goals, who will keep you accountable to your goals, and anything else that will help you achieve your goals (time plan, calendar, self-care report questions, etc). Thalia can supply example plans on request.
- Discuss your draft self-care plan with your coach and make changes if appropriate.
- Send it to Thalia.
Component #6: by 15 November
- Write a very short report - just 2-3 informal paragraphs in an email - on the book you read and send it to Thalia.
- [Optional] Share your book response in the Facebook group.
- Meet with someone in a position of responsibility in your church to talk about what you have learned about self-care this year. You may like to show them your proposed self-care plan. If there is a reason this step seems difficult or inappropriate in your church setting, please talk to your coach and Thalia.
4a. If you would recommend this Lifelong Learning option to other pastors, contact three or more pastors who you think would benefit from it, and tell them why. Please also email Thalia and Mike Crudge (Centre for Lifelong Learning) to let us know what was helpful, and any changes you suggest.
4b. If you would not recommend this Lifelong Learning option to others, please email Thalia or Mike Crudge (Centre for Lifelong Learning) to give some constructive feedback.
Facilitator: Thalia Kehoe Rowden
Thalia began 2011 as the minister of West Baptist Church in New Plymouth and ended it as the mother of a charming newborn baby. She's also an awesome parallel parker, a wannabe runner and enthusiastic but rubbish at gardening. She is also a graduate of the Pastoral Leadership Track at Carey Baptist College.
Thalia blogs at www.sacraparental.com "This blog is my weaving project. I think of parenting as a sacramental task, somewhere God can be keenly experienced. All the things I’m trying to weave into my parenting – hospitality, hilarity, feminism, emotional literacy, social justice, good nutrition, music, science, churchy stuff, everything – all of that is stuff I care about because I try to follow Jesus Christ."
She also blogs at Kiwi Families on the spiritual practice of parenthood: listening to God as we parent our children, hearing God's voice through them and through the delights and despairs of bringing them up.
In late 2015 Thalia and her family moved to South East Asia to work with Partners Relief & Development, a small international charity working to bring free, full lives to children affected by conflict and oppression.
PARTICIPANTS: Up to a maximum of 20 at any time.
COST: This course is free for registered Baptist Leaders. All other registrants will be email invoiced NZD$50 per Guided Learning option.
[updated 15 February 2017]