A few years ago while we were still living in Florida we discovered that for the price of a couple Starbucks drinks a week we could outsource getting our yard work done. I guess there were some perks to having a small yard! While the idea of letting someone else mow and weedeat in the oppressive humidity of a Florida July sounded awesome, we ended up deciding not to. It wasn't a financial decision, it was a sanity decision.
I need to mow my grass. Not because I can do it better, or that I can do it faster. But I needed to do it as a way of replenishing my soul and decompressing for a bit. All of this is fresh too as I stare out my living room window at the yard I mowed and the fence I pressure washed. Pastors, can I offer this bit of counsel to you? If possible, cut your own grass.
It gives your mind a break - So much of what we do in ministry is mentally taxing. It's not necessarily physically taxing, although the hours and days can be long. As I heard one pastor say about counseling young men to ministry "It has its advantages, it's an inside job without a lot of heavy lifting." The weariness of a week in ministry often comes from the mental toll. Sunday preparation is tough and is an all-consuming mental (and emotional and spiritual) exercise. Don't believe me? Try preaching the minor prophets sometime. Cutting your grass helps give your mind a break. I love it. Go one way in a straight line, turn the mower around, and come back the other way in a straight line. Repeat as necessary.
It engages your body - Again, a lot of this I say as someone who's in full time vocational ministry. It can be a largely sedentary job, a lot of sitting. Getting a sweat, getting some steps in, and exercising your body for a while does nothing but good to your heart. And sweat I've found often has a healing property to it, that we can sweat out our stresses and the weights we carry around us.
It's a job that can be finished - This was the biggest thing I remarked about when we were trying to decide to outsource yard work or not. I don't love it. But I need it. So much of ministry is unfinished business. Sure Sundays come and go and you have to have your message ready in the can. But you'll never "finish" preaching. You'll never finish staffing. There will always be things to deal with. You'll never finish counseling. There will always be crises. You'll never finish discipleship. There will always be growth opportunities. You'll never finish financial management. There'll always be something that breaks. What I love about cutting my grass is that when it's done, it's done. I can step back, see the lines in the yard, and be done. It's a project. And I can finish it.
What do you do that helps you disengage your mind for a bit? Is it woodworking? Is it golf? Is it something else? Or do you find the same satisfaction I do in seeing a nicely mowed lawn?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.