In our intricately connected social world, ministry often attempts to adapt and share the good news in new, effective ways. In our time, this might mean taking on new media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in addition to the emails, phone calls, meetings, coffee discussions, newsletter articles, and lunch conversations. Some pastors, like myself, are prone to mutli-tasking, hoping to accomplish much in a short period of time by taking care of several activities at once. The new media all around us accents this, promoting attention spans that are 140 characters or less.
Even now, as a house husband, I check my email, update Facebook, check out a Twitter link, parouse the New York Times online, start the laundry, load the dishwasher and try to fix lunch. I’m sure it would be quite humorous to retrace my steps, frantically, energetically determined to complete it all.
As the following blog suggests, while this posture may serve a kind of accomplishment, it can stifle nourishment. Without adequate time to step back, reflect, and, yes, pray; pastoral ministry will surely wither under the heated grind of numerous, mutli-tasked activities. However good and promising they may be, taking on infinite ministry tasks can breed burnout and deplete our spirits. As Paul continuously reminds us, we are saved by grace through faith and empowered by God’s Spirit, not saved by our work and empowered by the buzz of our accomplishments–even ministry accomplishments! No completed newsletter article or popular blog post will give the energy or meaning necessary to rest peacefully in ourselves and crucial to serving others.
I’ve come to know this too keenly. I often find myself hungry and aggravated, on edge about the simplest matters. All my facebooking, twittering, reading, laundering, washing, and various other tasks ended up distracting me from eating. I missed lunch.
As a pastor, I will need to feast on prayer, making time to eat daily. Mutli-tasking may be required at times, but it cannot occlude the need for attuned, focused, uni-tasked attention through prayer. With that nourishment, I trust I’ll be better able to discern the best way to go about all the various responsibilities and demands of ministry. And I suspect my seemingly intractable need for accomplishment will give way to the saving assurance of God’s grace.