This week at an annual conference worship meeting, Jorge Lockward, who works with the General Board of Global Ministries asked a simple question:
“Do you have the bandwidth for that?”
He wasn’t talking about our technical capabilities in the venue. He was asking about our spiritual, physical, and emotional capacity to take on a new piece of the project. We didn’t, so we let it go.
This month, I have pushing my bandwidth past capacity. In the midst of winding down our Imagine No Malaria campaign, we are also gearing up for the “big finish” of Annual Conference and a gigantic youth event we have put together. We are closing on our new house next week. Beginning to pack up boxes around the house. Dreaming and praying about my new appointment to serve a local church and all the possibilities for ministry in that place. Alongside district and conference teams I’m working with.
When my husband and I need extra bandwidth in our home for technology, we pay for upgrades to our system. But what can we do in our everyday lives?
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” – Martin Luther
When we get busy, we often leave off those things that fill us the most and expand our capacity to respond. To help me through this crazy, busy month, I picked up a new devotional and I’m spending more time reading in the morning and evenings. It helps me to go to sleep without the list of tasks there is to do on my mind.
Prayer also helps connect me and ground me with the source of energy and power in my ministry. I’m not alone and I’m not the be-all-end-all of these projects or the world. My prayer life often reminds me of the interconnectedness of our work and our immense capacity to do more together than if I stubbornly hold my piece all by myself.
But self-care is also about our physical selves as well. I’ve started doing some stretching yoga poses before bed. I need to get out and run more and play a few more rounds of disc golf a week… if only it would stop raining and warm up.
“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.” – Irma Kurtz
We have to set boundaries for ourselves. We have to say no. We have to be fully aware of our capacity to respond and not feel guilty if we can not do so in that moment.
And I have to fully admit. I have sucked at this lately. The reality that I have only a month and a half left in my work has warped my sense of boundaries… the many good things left to do all feels like it needs to be crammed in together. But because I am saying yes to some things, in reality, I’m also saying no to other things that I don’t wish to. Time with family for one.
Lately, I have felt like a “taker”. Taking time from this and that person to help get the projects and the work done. I’m grateful that there are people in my life who are helping me say no and set boundaries when I’m taking too much time away from those people they do know are important to me.
There’s a temptation to multi-task everything, but you can’t multi-task presence.” – Cindy Crawford
We all try to multi-task, some of us more or less successfully than others. But this quote is a reminder that quality is really more important than quantity. I can spend a whole day with someone, but if I’m constantly distracted by emails and tasks and my focus is scattered, then I might as well not be there at all. I found myself in a meeting earlier this week, trying to listen in to the conversation while I responded to an email. I was a poor friend in that moment. We cannot do it all right now.
Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I needed some time together to relax. But I also had a t0-do list a mile long. So he asked how long it would take to cross six things off that list. It ended up being 1.5 hours. But I focused on those tasks, got them done, and felt immensely better when they were. Then, I was free to truly be present with him. I didn’t feel the weight of edits that needed to be made or feel like I should send emails during commercial breaks. My mind was at rest and I could be fully present without distraction.