The last year and a half of uncertainty and constant change has impacted so much in so many ways, some of which are still emergent. We are so grateful for the resilience of WellSprings throughout this time, which is in large part due to Reverend Lee’s skillful and steady leadership. We are also grateful to Reverend Lee for courageously and clearly communicating her need to slow her work pace over the next six months to begin to recover from the effects of this extended period of stress as she discusses in detail in the communication below.
Her plan focuses on maintaining the aspects of the Executive Minister role that are most essential to the continued health of the congregation. There will be clear communication, on days that Reverend Lee is not available, about who to contact for various needs. It is our hope that over the course of these next six months, we will collectively find ways to move further toward Shared Ministry, in which our ministers, staff, lay leadership, and congregational volunteers all work collaboratively in covenant with mutual trust and support toward our common vision and set of goals.
As always, we welcome your feedback – please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with comments, questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us individually through Realm.
Your Board of Trustees
Bill Cabin, Chris Chepel, Julie Choi, Chris Groppe, Tonie Scullion, Tiffany Shoffner
In early September, I heard myself say to a colleague: “I am dancing on the edge of burnout.” Like all of us, I’ve been through periods of stress in my life, and bad moods that come and go. This was different. It was a feeling that had been building consistently, over this past year.
“Burnout” is a term I’ve always heard thrown around, but I’d never explored its precise meaning. When I began to search for resources on burnout – what doctors and therapists say about it’s causes, progression, and effects – I could see clearly that I was experiencing the signs, and that this was different from run-of-the-mill stress.
I was not feeling this way before last year – and I want you all to know, this is not your fault. Nearly every day since March 2020 has asked extraordinary things of all of us. Over time, that has simply taken a toll on me. My body, mind, and heart are increasingly finding ways to let me know I can’t keep going on, without attending to that toll.
I reached out to our Board of Trustees, and I’m so grateful for how kindly they received me. I wish we all had a workplace culture like the one here at WellSprings, and supervisors as dedicated and supportive as our Board. I’ve asked for some accommodations, for a six-month period, that will help me recover, slow my pace, and take time to do what’s necessary to reverse the trajectory of burnout and return to a much more whole and healthy place:
- From November through April, I will be working a 4-day week. This means I’ll be adding Fridays, to my usual Wednesdays and Saturdays off. I will be holding firm boundaries around my days off, and will not be responding to messages until, at soonest, my next working day. This doesn’t apply to emergencies (deaths, life-threatening accidents, or mental health crises), but it will apply to requests for calls or meetings, non-emergency pastoral support, and logistical matters.
- I will use some of that time to engage professional support. I’ve already re-established myself in sessions with my regular therapist, and plan to engage additional support from a clinician who specializes in burnout recovery.
- I will be on leave, for the first two weeks of November. In order to give this period an intentional start, and for my own rest, I’ll be taking time away from work from November 1st through the 15th.
I share all this because it will likely have an impact on you, at some point over these next six months. You may not hear from me as soon as you’d like – or, you may have to make some decisions, or work through some problems, without me. My pace of work will be slower, and I will be letting some non-essential things go, for a while.
I also share this because I need you to know how seriously I take my responsibility to care for myself so that I can care for this community, as its minister. Perhaps most importantly though, I share because I know some of you may see yourself in this story. I’ve put together a list of resources that were helpful for me, in learning about burnout, and making a plan to ask for help and recover. You can find it here.
We are all living with the lingering effects of a traumatic, global event – within systems that some days seem to be crumbling and breaking down – or at the very least, are allowing far too many of us to slip through the cracks.
And. We live on a resilient planet, that knows how to heal itself, in an ecosystem of creatures that hold and support each other. A blanket of air protects us from the vastness of space, and a bright sun still rises, every morning, to give us life and a chance at another day. Human beings love each other, and communities like ours still gather out of sheer hope, and a calling to be part of something greater than our small and vulnerable selves.
Things have been hard – and, at any moment, we can choose healing. I’m grateful for the space, within this community, to choose healing in my own large and small ways, and I hope our congregation continues to provide you that space as you need it, in the weeks and months and many years ahead.