Life on the run

How do you take time out in the middle of a jam-packed schedule? Pastor Glenn Townend reflects.

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(Photo: Fabrizio Verrecchia)

Much of my schedule is pre-programmed—all I have to do is follow along and do my part. Union and General Conference Executive meetings, boards (Sydney Adventist Hospital, Sanitarium, Adventist Media, Avondale, Pacific Adventist University), sub-committees, strategic and administrative meetings, as well as Biblical Research, education, discipleship, leadership, culture—committees make up more than half of what I do and have a regular cycle.

Discretionary time is hard to find. The rest of life has to fit in around the tight schedule and preparation for such events. I’m sure others have similar challenges.

Before I moved headlong into this year, I wrote down some reflections about 2018—accomplishments (personal, professional and for the Church and its organisations), ongoing challenges and things I learnt. One thing I learnt: I need to take time out to process the issues and my thoughts and feelings about those issues.

Each board or committee makes decisions that impact people. We pray, get relevant information and follow good process to make the best decisions possible—no decision is taken lightly. Sometimes there are personnel changes—decisions are positive for some and negative to others. Other decisions are not popular and people attack you personally. All of this has an emotional, mental and spiritual impact on decision-makers, like me. I feel it.

If I don’t acknowledge my thoughts and feelings they build up in me. I have an emotional outburst or get sick (my body telling me something is wrong). So as I live life on the run, I must take more time to listen to myself, reflect and process. Perhaps this is what the psalmists, prophets like Jeremiah, and the letters of Paul do. As well as dealing with the issues in their hectic lives, they share feelings and thoughts too. Perhaps it’s a healthy way of growing as a disciple of Jesus.