Giddings-Lovejoy Transitional Presbytery Leader

Rev. Dr. Craig Howard

I had the opportunity to go to Israel last November with a group called Interfaith Partners for Peace. It was a group of 30 people, 15 Rabbis and 15 Christian Pastors. Our goal was to visit with political leaders, business people, and educators in Israel and Palestine. We wanted to get an understanding of the complexity of Middle East relationships, while observing how some people are actually bridging the chasm that separates these two peoples.
I experienced the 10 day trip while in the midst of business. I’d worked six weeks without a day off. I left a conference in Louisville to go to Israel. I didn’t even have time to wash my suitcase full of clothing!
Workaholism has always been a weakness of mine. Somehow I came to believe that I could solve problems by persistence where I lacked intelligence. This has served me well in education (I completed the M.Div in 4 years while working full-time) and in ministry (I worked bi-vocationally, which meant 60 – 70 hour work weeks). While serving as presbytery executive in Milwaukee, personnel called me on the carpet many times for the hours I kept. I’m trying to do better here in Giddings-Lovejoy. So far I’ve stayed out of the office on Fridays (still checking emails and phone calls though).
One thing a workaholic can do is spot another workaholic. In my first month as your Presbytery Leader, I’ve spotted quite a few! These are pastors and leaders who don’t have consistent down time. Or, their down time is planned but it never happens. There’s always one more meeting, writing, untimely hospital visit or funeral. There is more need than there is time. I’m watching pastors and leaders exert a lot of energy, as they attempt to do more, help more, and save more, yet still remain behind.
While in Israel I was able to participate in Shabbat and Sabbath. The experience left a strong impression on what it means to enjoy the company of friends, celebrate, and rest. Even the elevators work differently on Sabbath! They stop on every floor so no one has to press a button!
I know I am pushing against the cultural grain of 24 hour news and microwave ovens. We desire service. We want it fast and we want it now. Our leaders are expected to maintain the cultural pace and always be available.
But God has a better way. It is alright to stop. It is alright to disconnect and spend uninterrupted time with family and self; to read something we don’t have to preach. It is alright to take time to rebuild and re-create.
Let us model for one another a holy leadership that includes down time and rest. Let us become the people of God to one another.

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