For the first time in my LIFE I bailed on services because I was too dang sick. Nursing my girl all week, not getting a full nights rest since last Sunday night, fighting off whatever bugs my dear one has shared with me, all led to a really interesting Sunday morning.
So I'm feeling really crappy, but I manage to pull out a sermon. Mediocre at best, but hey, I'm leaning on the Spirit here! I make it down to my first service, 30 minute drive away. Start getting pale. Normally energetic greeting of congregation is replaced with a wan smile. Get dizzy during sermon, and can tell by the puzzled looks that I am not making much sense. Get dizzier during communion, and have to grab hold of the altar at one point to keep from falling over. Somehow, I make it to the end, and gratefully collapse in the big pastor chair.
I have two more services to do.
Now, I am a person very suseptible to guilt and worry. The mantra is, you show up unless you are in the hospital or dead (or so my intership supervisor and first Senior Pastor pounded into my head). But I knew there was no way. It took everything I had to do the 30 minute drive back to town. So I found the council president of the second church I was to preside at (10 minutes before service was to start, thus compounding my HUGE sense of guilt) and let her know that I was not coming through. I knew she had a sermon based on today's text prepared for a nursing home service later in the day, so I knew there would be something, anyway. I stumbled home, called up the council president of my third congregation to activate the calling tree to let them know I would be a no-show. I'm sure they just cancelled.
And so, for the rest of the day, I have vacilliated between self-pity and guilt. When I haven't had dizzy spells.
How are we supposed to handle illness as ministry professionals? We are expected to go above and beyond the call of duty, yet we are also supposed to be role models for healthy living. In talking with other pastors, we feel a sense of guilt when we "take care of ourselves" because we are not giving our all to the parish. When we pour everything into our ministry and sacrifice our wellbeing, we begin to resent the ministry and are less effective in it, and shortchange our families. What a juggling act we are in!